Climatology – Introduction, meaning, and branches

Climatology is one of the branches of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences. Climatology is the science of studying the average atmospheric conditions of a region from a long-term perspective. The primary goal of Climatology is to study the unique characteristics of the atmosphere. It includes the study of controlling the global climate, origin, types of climates, causes, and processes influencing the climatic variations, elements of weather, and the impact of climate on humans or vice-versa. 

Climate is the average weather condition for a period of more than 30 years. Thus, it includes the systematic and regional studies of the atmospheric conditions i.e. weather and climate. 

Weather refers to the sum of atmospheric conditions. It includes the terms of temperature, pressure, wind, moisture, cloudiness, precipitation, and visibility of a particular place at a time. Infect, weather denotes short-term variations of atmospheric conditions and it is highly variable. 


Meaning of climatology:

Climatology is compounded by two Greek words. One is Klima and another is Logos. Klima means the slope of the earth, and Logos means the science of study. Here the slope of the earth refers to our conception of latitude. At present it is a broad and diverse field; it seeks to describe and explain the nature of climate. In brief, it may be defined as the scientific study of the climate. It is the study of the varieties of climates found on the earth and their distribution over its surface.

Read Also: Definition of Geography – Meaning, scope and Type 

Definition of climatology:

The followings are some definitions forward by different climatologists.

According to Critchfield, ‘Climatology is the science that seeks to describe and explain the nature of the climate, how it differs from place to place and how it is related to man’s activities.’

In the word of Austin Miller,’ it is that branch of science which discusses the average conditions of weather.’

According to Koppen and De Lang,’ It is a summary, a composition of weather conditions over a long period of time.’

Thus, It is defined as that science which studies the nature of the climate, the causes, and interpretation of its spatial variations and its association with the elements of the natural environment and human activities. It is now apparent that climatology is that atmospheric science which includes the consideration of weather condition of a place or an area of different spatial scales over a long period of time of frequent and infrequent weather phenomena as well as average weather conditions.

Branches of climatology:

There are five basic branches or sub-divisions of climatology. These are the following:-

Physical climatology:

Physical climatology seeks to explain the factors responsible for bringing about the temporal and spatial variations in heat exchange, moisture exchange, and air movement. It studies various elements of weather namely, insolation, duration of sunshine, temperature, air pressure, wind, precipitation, cloudiness and fog, and visibility, etc.

Various combinations of weather or climatic elements are caused by the complex processes of the transfer of heat, moisture, and momentum between the earth’s surface and the atmosphere. There are certain climatic factors such as latitude, height above sea level, nature of the surface, local relief, and prevailing winds, etc. which in turn control these processes. It is thus evident that physical climatology studies the factors and processes of regional variations of climatic conditions.

Read Also: Physical Geography – Meaning, scope, and Type

Regional or descriptive climatology:

This branch of climatology seeks to determine and describe the various types of climates. Descriptive climatology is another word of Regional climatology. Climatic conditions significantly vary from one region to another region.

In other words, there are spatial variations in the combination of elements of weather and climate. Therefore it originates the different climatic types. It studies the different types of climates determined by almost similar climatic conditions.

On the basis of the size and extent of the climatic regions, the world is divided into three regions. These are  Microclimatic regions, Meso climatic regions, and Nano climatic regions.

Applied climatology:

Applied climatology is concerned with the application of climatological knowledge to practical problems. It analyses the relationship of climatology to other sciences. The main purpose is to find out the ways and means to make use of our knowledge of climatic elements for the betterment of human life on Earth.

Dynamic climatology:

Dynamic climatology studies the thermodynamic processes in the atmosphere and the resultant atmospheric motions. It investigates the impact of changes in various physical parameters on climate. It includes the effect of the increase of greenhouse gases on global temperature, the role of mountains in determining the dynamics of the atmosphere, and an investigation into sea-surface temperature.  

Synoptic climatology:

Synoptic climatology deals with the local or hemispheric climate from the viewpoint of atmospheric circulation. Different circulation patterns lead to differences in climates. It studies the relationship between circulation features and severe weather conditions. For example the effect of El Nino and La Nina in creating severe weather conditions.


So, climatology is the science of climate which studies the Physical state of the atmosphere over a specific region, during a specific period, and on the basis of climatic data. It is also a science that seeks to describe and explain the nature of the climate, why it differs from place to place and how it is related to other elements of the natural environment and human activities.      

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