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What Is a Climate Graph?

By Kenneth W. Michael Wills
Updated May 21, 2024
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A climate graph, also called a climograph and adhering to the most common definition, is a single graph that often depicts the overall weather for a specified location. Data included in the depiction usually shows annual precipitation and temperatures graphed on a scale. Climate graphs are used by meteorologists and scientists to ascertain long-term averages over a 12-month period. As such, climate graphs are good at illustrating the seasonal climate of a location, but are not a very useful resource for details about the locales climate. Instead, scientists and meteorologists will often compile specific climographs to illustrate detailed information about the climate in a specific location, such as daily temperature extremes.

Presentation of information on a climate graph usually adheres to a common format. The bottom of the graph will usually list the 12 months from January through December. On the left side of the graph, readers will find a range of precipitation either in inches or centimeters. Over to the right side of the graph are temperature ranges listed in either Fahrenheit or Celsius. Bars often illustrate the amount of precipitation in a given month, while dots plot out the average temperature for that month.

Sometimes a climate graph, however, will illustrate more details about a location's climate. Researchers often accomplish this by using the same format for layout of the graphs, but by adding different shades to show important climate details. Compiling all the information in one graph for a 12-month period is useful, in particular for researchers who need to look at the data from a historical perspective to compare changes from one year to the next. Detailed information in such graphs will often include record temperatures and actual observed temperatures, in addition to normal temperature ranges as well as record precipitation and observed precipitation.

Despite such detail, sometimes researchers still need to track additional information about a location's climate. For such cases, scientists and meteorologists will graph out specific climate graphs to illustrate the required information to accompany the original climate graph. One example of such graphs is to pinpoint the time of day for the highest and lowest temperature, providing researchers more insight into the overall climate of the location.

Meteorologists in just about every city or locale around the world will compile a climate graph on an annual basis. Public accessibility to climate graphs is usually available through national weather service centers either online or on site. Many academic universities will compile climate graphs as well, making these graphs available to the public.

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