Continentality of Climate

The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Continentality of Climate


the sum of climatic features determined by the influence of large land areas on the atmosphere and climate-forming processes.

The main differences in climate between the continents and oceans are due to the accumulation of heat. The surfaces of continents heat up quickly and intensely during the day and in summer and cool off at night and in winter. This process occurs more slowly over the oceans because the water masses accumulated a large quantity of heat in the deep layers during the warm periods of the day or year. The heat is gradually released into the atmosphere during cold periods. The air temperature and other climatic characteristics thus vary more sharply (from day to night and from summer to winter) over the continents than over the oceans. Because of the movement of air masses, oceans influence the climate of adjacent parts of continents, and continents influence the climate of oceans. A climate may, therefore, have a greater or lesser degree of continentality (or oceanity), which can be expressed quantitatively. The continentality of climate is generally regarded as a function of the annual range of air temperatures.


Khromov, S. P. “K voprosu o kontinental’nosti klimata.” Izv. Vses geograficheskogo obshchestva, 1957, vol. 89, fasc. 3.
Rubinshtein, E. S. “O vliianii raspredeleniia okeanov i sushi na zemnom share.” Ibid., 1953, vol. 85, fasc. 4.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
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Staviskiy, "The changing continentality of climate in Central Russia," Soviet Geography, vol.