A basic climate graph will show information about temperature (Celsius) and precipitation (millimetres). More advanced climate graphs will show other atmospheric conditions, such as maximum and minimum temperatures.
Traditionally, precipitation (rainfall) is drawn as a blue bar chart, while temperature is shown as a red line. Some geography teachers have been known to freak when they see these rules being broken! However, the golden rule is to construct a climate graph that can easily be understood by everyone.
Interpreting climate graphs
In the exam you may be asked to look at the information in a graph and describe the area’s climate.
- Look for patterns in the temperature data
- Is the temperature the same all year round? If it is different, how many seasons does the location experience?
- Which season is the warmest? Is it warm (10 to 20°C), hot (20 to 30°C) or very hot (above 30°C)?
- Which season is the coolest? Is it mild (0 to 10°C), cold (-10 to 0°C) or very cold (below -10°C)?
- What is the range of temperature? (Subtract the minimum temperature from the maximum temperature).
- Look for patterns in the rainfall data
- Does the rainfall occur all year round?
- What is the pattern of the rainfall? Check which season(s) is/are drier or wetter than others.
- What is the total annual rainfall? Add each month’s total together to get the annual total.
- Then put the rainfall and temperature information together – what does it tell you about this area?
- Describe the patterns in temperature and rainfall, including how they relate to each other. You now have a description of the climate.