China has a marked continental monsoon climate characterized by great variety. Most parts of China are in the northern temperate zone while parts of the southern area are in the tropical or subtropical zone and parts of the northern area in the Frigid Zone.
Most of China lies in the north temperature zone, characterized by a warm climate and clear division between seasons, a climate well suited for habitation. In winter, northerly winds from high latitude areas keep the northern parts cold and dry; while in summer, monsoons from eastern and southern coastal areas bring warmness and moisture.
The climate also varies with the extensive territory and various topography from region to region.
In northern China, summer is warm and short, while winter is cold and long. In southern China, summer is long, humid and hot, and the winter short and warm, with temperature rarely below freezing. In central China (the valley area along the Yangtze River), division between seasons is clear -- summer is long, hot and humid while winter, short and cold.
In northwestern China, such as Xinjiang and Inner Mongolia, summer is dry and sweltering and winter is formidably cold. On the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau (about 4,000 meters above sea level) in southwestern China, winter is extremely cold and summer is short and moderately warm, with little precipitation and great difference in temperature between day and night.
China sees various other types of climate due to its vast territory. Temperature belts from south to north appear in this order: tropical zone, subtropical zone, temperate zone, medium temperate zone and frigid temperate zone. There is also a vertical climatic zone on the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau in southwestern China.
Situated in the eastern part of the Asian continent and facing the Pacific, China also has a prominent monsoon climate. In addition, other types of climate, such as alpine climate, plateau climate, desert climate, forest climate and basin climate, coexist in China, due to complicated topography and a great disparity in elevation.
Most of China has a continental monsoon climate. From September to April of the following year, the dry and cold winter monsoon blow from Siberia and the Mongolian Plateau, resulting in cold and dry winters and great differences in the temperatures of northern and southern China. From April to September, warm and humid summer monsoons blow from the seas in the east and south, resulting in overall high temperatures and plentiful rainfall, and little difference in the temperatures of northern and southern China.
In addition, cold wave, cyclone, intermittent drizzles and typhoon are also the results of monsoon climate. Caused by monsoon, the rainy season runs from May through to August and typhoons frequently occur in the southeast coast between July and September.
China has an average annual precipitation of 629 millimeters, which is unevenly distributed both regionally and seasonally. Precipitation gradually declines from the southeastern area to the northwestern inland area. Influenced by the oceanic warm and humid air current, most southeastern coastal areas in China have rich rainfall, which reaches over 1,500 millimeters, while in northwestern areas annual precipitation drops to below 200 millimeters.
China,s average temperature gradually declines from the eastern area to the northern area. The Mohe area of Heilongjiang Province at the northernmost tip of China, located north of Northern Latitude 53°, has a frigid temperate averaging -5°C. Zengmu Ansha in Hainan Province at the southern end, only 400 kilometers from the equator, is dominated by the equatorial climate with an average temperature of 25°C. Most parts of the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau have a temperature below 0°C. Thus, there is great temperature difference between the south and the north.
In summer, the temperature is high nationwide, and temperature difference is small between the north and the south. In winter, most areas in China are cold and the temperature varies greatly between northern and southern parts, with the biggest difference up to 50°C. In Mohe, the lowest temperature in a year can reach 52.3°C, while that in Sanya, Hainan, is above 20°c.