Climate is a region’s weather over a long period. Within its vast expanse, Canada embraces seven climatic zones. Each of the zones depends on conditions such as proximity to large bodies of water, altitude, and latitude. Southern Ontario enjoys warm, humid summers and short, cold winters, because of the moderating influence of the Great Lakes. The mountainous interior of British Columbia and the Yukon Territory support glaciers on the summits and semideserts in the valleys.
Latitude — the distance north or south of the equator — influences whether a climate is cold or hot. The midlatitude Prairies experience continental extremes: cold winters and hot, dry summers. The high-latitude Arctic endures intensely dry and frigid conditions. The largest zone by far is the Subarctic, which knows short, cool summers and long, cold winters, and low precipitation. All of southern Canada is classified as “temperate” — that is, it has four seasons. Winter touches all zones, save the Pacific, where warm winds promote a mild, rainy climate year-round. By contrast, the prevailing west-to-east winds moving across central Canada bring cool, humid summers and short, cool winters to Atlantic Canada.
This animation shows a blank map of Canada, colour-keyed to show different climatic zones. Areas of the country are coloured in from west to east to show the climate zones.