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Climate

The climate that existed in Alberta at the end of the Ice Age changed over time to become the one that exists today and is the single most important agent in the creation of these natural regions.

What is the weather outside like today? Is it rainy and cold or hot and sunny? Is the weather where you live like this every year at this time? If you are talking to a friend and you describe the weather of a place over a long time, you are describing its climate. Climate is the summation of daily weather patterns over a long period of years in a given region. The elements of daily weather that are significant in determining the climate are temperature, wind, sunshine, and rain. A change in climate caused Alberta to be a desert at one time in its geologic history, and at another time to be a rain forest. It was the climate acting on the post-Ice Age landscape that resulted in the plants, animals, and soils that are now found. The regional differences in climate provided conditions for different soil types and a range of plant and animal species to inhabit specific regions. These distinctive regions form the six Natural Regions of Alberta.

While within Alberta there is a large variation in climate, generally Alberta is described as having a cool, continental climate. A continental climate has hot summers and cold winters, with very little rainfall. The coolness is largely a result of the latitude (how close to the equator) at which the province is found. Alberta is between the 49th and 60th parallels of latitude north of the equator. As a result the area receives considerably less solar radiation than regions near the equator. The reduction in solar radiation results in average temperatures considerably lower than areas to the south. The temperature of some regions of the province can reach as high as plus forty degrees Celsius, and most areas have days of thirty degrees. These are isolated cases, however, only found in the months of June, July and August, when the levels of solar radiation are highest. Winter temperatures all over the province can drop to minus forty degrees Celsius. Overall, the temperatures in Alberta are described as cool and continental.

For more information on Alberta's climate click here.