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Humid Subtropical Climate

Last updated date: 18th Apr 2024
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Introduction to Humid Subtropical Climate

The climate system of the Earth is complex because of different geographical locations different kinds of the climate system is found. The major five types of classification are there according to the Koppen Classification. In this, symbols are associated to define any type of climate and its features. 

Among these, Cfa represents the humid subtropical climate. In this article, we will be learning specifically about this type of climate which will be helpful in Climatology, Physical Geography, Geography, Earth Sciences, Geology and Environment as well.

The climate is the long term average of the weather. It is about the period of thirty years. It is experienced over months or years. It means the usual condition of the temperature, humidity, atmospheric pressure, wind, rainfall and any other elements in the particular area. 

According to the classification of Koppen, the major type of climate is five which can be found in the world is Tropical, dry, temperate, continental and polar. These classifications are further divided into various types among which we are going to read about the humid subtropical climate.

The areas of this type of climate which is specified by hot and humid climate summer and cold and moderate winter. This type of climate is found on the side of the southeast in all continents. It is also known as a warm temperate climate and China Type of Climate. The temperature is high in these places and is a very pleasant type of climate. 

Subtropical Region

The region which has a hot and humid climate is called a subtropical region or subtropical zone. The region is located between the Tropic of Cancer and the Tropic of Capricorn. The area where most have summer season and moderate cold winter. Many subtropical zones are located at and near the coastal areas. The climate of humid subtropical is found on the side of the East coast of continents between the subtropical latitude of 20° and 40° north and south of the equator. 

The subtropical or subtropics are geographic and climate zones. These are located in the north and south of the tropical zone. They are found in China and the United States where they produce more seasonal variations and differences between summer and winter. The subtropical climate is found in Florida and other parts of the south. 

Subtropical Climate Meaning

The subtropical climate means the climate which is the major type of climate. It is Koppen's classification of the climate. The subtropical climate is a zone of climate which is specified by hot and humid summers and mild to cold winters. The climate zones are located to the north and south of the tropical zone. The subtropical or subtropics are geographic. 

They are characterized by warm summers and cold winters. A humid climate means the climate has excess moisture in which heat is insufficient to evaporate all moisture from the atmosphere which is present in the form of precipitation. By the drainage of streams and rivers, excess water is removed from the surface. This climate means the temperature in the winter between 0 °C (32 °F) or -3 °C (27 °F) and 18 °C (64 °F) and the temperature in the summer season is 22 °C (72 °F) or more than this. 

Location and Distribution

  • This type of climate is found on the eastern sides of the continents between the latitudes of 25° and 35°-40° north and south of the equator.

  • It is found in similar latitudes of dry summer subtropical climate as well as the Mediterranean type of climate.

  • Mediterranean type of climate can be found on the western sides whereas this China type of climate can be found on the eastern sides of the continents.

  • If we compare the landmass of the Northern and Southern Hemisphere, then this climate is found in large areas of the Northern Hemisphere.

  • With its location, we can determine that it acts as a transitional type of climate. Thus, this climate is similar to the humid tropical type of climate in summers. This type of climate is dominated by mT air masses i.e maritime tropical, convectional rainfall as well as thunderstorms.

  • Besides these, high humidity with high temperature along with convectional rainfall is also found here during summers. 

  • In winters, these regions are influenced by extratropical cyclones as well as a frontal system because of the movement of pressure belts as wind systems towards the equator.

  • Besides these, this climate is also influenced by the presence of warm currents on the eastern side which increases the air temperature in winters also causes summer instability.

  • The distribution of this type of climate is shown on the map. The examples of regions where this type of climate is found are South-East regions of the United States of America,  East Asia especially China, in South America regions of Paraguay, Brazil, Uruguay as well as in North-East Argentina and some coastal regions of Australia and South Africa.


  • The subtropical zone has mild winters where the temperature can vary from 4.4°C to 12.8°C. For example, in the coldest month, the average temperature of New Orleans is 11.7°C, Shanghai is 3.3°C and Buenos Aires is 9.4°C. 

  • Here, the temperature annual range is not very wide but wide variations can be seen in the temperature of different locations. It also depends upon the size of the landmass. If it is greater, it will have a wider temperature annual range. For example, the annual temperature ranges of Buenos Aires is  12.8°C, Sydney is 10.5°, and Shanghai & Montgomery is 24°C. 

  • If we talk about the lowest winter average temperature of this type of climate, that can be found in China and then in South East USA. Here, winters are severe.

  • In the USA, because of the absence of mountain barriers, cold polar air mar from higher latitudes sweeps to the Gulf of Mexico which leads to severe winters whereas in China polar winds are extracted by winter anticyclones of Central Asia, which leads to the formation of low temperature here. In the Southern hemisphere, the winters are not as severe as these two locations because of no severe climate in poleward margins and no invasion can be seen of cp air masses.

  • The growing season here is long which is 7 to 12 months and here the phenomenon of frost is rare. But sometimes it occurs which can be damaging for crops. As per its frequency, it occurs more in the Northern Hemisphere as compared to the Southern hemisphere.

  • Besides these irregular warm as well as cold weather can be seen here brought by winter cyclones with their southern as well as northern winds.


  • This climate includes abundant precipitation whose annual average range can vary from 75 cm to 150 cm. At some locations, it can be 250 cm.

  • Due to the heating of the land in summer, rainfall can be occurred because of convective currents by the formation of cumulus clouds.

  • An unusually large number of thunderstorms, that are organised in belts, can be seen around the coastal areas of the USA i.e. Gulf states. 

  • No rainfall occurs every day despite the presence of strong summer heat. Random convectional rainfall can also be seen here. 

  • In winters, precipitation is associated with cyclones. During this period, precipitation is more widespread. 

  • Monsoon wind system that can be seen over China as well as in some parts of South East USA leads to having summer precipitation.

  • Tropical storms can be seen here in these regions when pressure belts are shifted towards the poles which can be violent and can develop typhoons or hurricanes.

Vegetation of Humid Subtropical

The natural vegetation which is found in humid subtropical areas is majorly evergreen, trees, bushes, and shrubs. These are not the hard type of evergreen trees. These evergreens are more fragile. The reason many plants are evergreen in these areas is that in the whole year, the climate of this place is warm for a long period and because of rain too.

The evergreen types of trees are pine trees. Evergreen is greened the whole of the year. It means they don't lose their leaves during the whole year. Pine trees remain green because of the small needles present in them. It is tough and these needles have wax which helps the trees to stay green. Pine trees are also known as coniferous trees as these trees have cones or conifers. Palm trees are also found in this place. These are very beautiful trees.

These types of trees are grown in the coastal areas of the humid subtropical climate. They have wide tough leaves which are known as "palms" the palm which wide captures the sun which allows these trees to grow faster. Few of the trees are grown as fruit such as coconut. Other types of vegetation are mangoes, Papaya, Pineapple, Magnolias, and Live oak.

Animals of Subtropical Zone

Because of the season of the area, the warmth and availability of plants are good for the habitat of the different species of the animals which are living there. Numerous birds, reptiles, amphibians, and mammals. The largest mammals are found in India which includes Panthers, deer, and capybaras. Panthers have to live in a subtropical region and adapt themselves according to the climate of the place. They use teeth and claws for hunting. With the help of claws, they are climbing the trees (different kinds of trees). 

In subtropical regions, the panthers also know how to swim and there is a lake in a subtropical region. Because of the warm temperature of the place, the cold-blooded animals are living well in these places. Reptiles such as alligators, turtles, and snakes are plentiful. 

The American alligator has their adaptions. They are cold-blooded animals. Due to the climate of the area, it helps them to cool and warm themselves according to the need. They hunt animals in the subtropical climate zone. The animals of this region experience the humid climate of the subtropical region. It is a great diversity of life forms. 

Fun Fact

There are some facts about the humid subtropical climate:

  • It is known for hot humid summers and moderates to cold winters.

  • At the time of summers, the temperature is from 70 degrees and 80 degrees.

  • At the time of winters, the temperature is average which is from 45-50 degrees.

  • The humid climate is found at 20° and 40° latitudes.

  • The largest part of the sunlight reaches the region of humid subtropical climate.

  • It is one of the major types of Koppen's classification of climate.

Koppen’s Classification Of Climate

This is one of the major climate systems that we are using. And it was published for the first time by a German-Russian climatologist. However, by the end of 1981, some changes were introduced into this climate system to form today’s Koppen classification of climate.

Accordingly, with the system, based on the patterns of the temperature and also by seasonal precipitations there are five climatic groups. They are:

  • Temperate

  • Dry

  • Tropical

  • Polar

  • Continental

And all of these are represented by a single letter. And it goes like A, B, C, D, and E. Also there are subgroups as well which we are used to designating with the main group. Here except for the climate group E, all the other ones are having subgroups of seasonal precipitation.


There are different types of climate classification existing. However, based on the effectiveness we have found that it is Koppen's climate classification is more suitable. But students should learn extra about the other climate classification and this way, you could learn the differences existing between them. And in that way, we can figure out the unique features of each area and how they are calculated for conserving the region too. All of these are crucial for human survival too. As these are parts of biodiversity. 

Thornthwaite Climate Classification

Another climate classification developed by an American climatologist is called Thornthwaite climate classification. In this, the climates were categorised based on the vegetation. 

There is mainly five characteristic vegetation. They are:

  • Rainforest

  • Desert

  • Steppe

  • Forest

  • Grassland

So the main factor about the local vegetation that we can take out is precipitation. If clearly said, it is called precipitation effectiveness. And this is the sum of 12 monthly ratios. 


To conclude, we can say that humid subtropical climate is the climate which is specified by the hot and humid summers and moderate to cold winters. It is one of the major types of Koeppen's classification of climate. It is found in the southeast of all continents between the latitudes 25° and 40°. It is a very pleasant type of place. The temperature of the place remains warm throughout the year. 

In this place, different kinds of vegetation are found in the place which includes palm trees, pine trees, herbs, shrubs, and bushes. The different kinds of animals are living there which adapt themselves according to the climate of the place. The animals are deer, panthers, capybaras, and reptiles like alligators, snakes, and turtles are living there.

FAQs on Humid Subtropical Climate

1. What are the Characteristics of Humid Subtropical Climate?

Just like in the name, the locations will be pretty humid obviously. However, the milder climates are what make the differences. It will be hot and humid during the summers. While will be cold in the winters. However, still, it will be experienced as milder climates. 

2. What Causes a Humid Subtropical Climate?

The subtropical climate lies between the Tropic of Cancer and the Tropic of Capricorn. As it presents on the equator, the light of the sun directly reaches this place. The presence of the Inter-Tropical Convergence Zone makes the climate hot and humid. The temperature is very low but the rainfall is very high in this region. This type of climate is also influenced by the Tropical type of climate in summers, movements of pressure belt and wind system, formation of cyclones, storms or thunderstorms as well as monsoon wind system, etc.

3. Which type is the vegetation grown in humid subtropical areas?

The vegetation that is found in the humid subtropical areas is always evergreen. This is because most at times it will be,

  • Trees

  • Shrubs 

  • Bushes

Although we say that, this area pretty much seems to be evergreen always. They are always fragile. And the reason for these locations to be evergreen is because the areas always seem to be warmer for longer periods. So in another way they have seen evergreen is because these trees never do shed their leaves in any climate. 

And also mostly the trees found here are pine trees. Because of the needles present in them, they stay greener during their entire lifetime. 

4. What does mean by humid subtropical climate?

The climate that is experienced in the regions that are away from tropical areas is called humid subtropical climate. Those areas will be a little heat and humid just like tropical areas. But still will be lesser. Examples of the humid subtropical areas are the north coast of Australia and Sydney.

5. How do animals in subtropical areas survive?

We can see a variety of plants and animals in these areas. Students have already discussed the climate conditions in the subtropicals. As it is always greener, amphibians, reptiles, and mammals can be found in these areas a lot. If you ever visit India, the major animals you can find here are panthers, deers, and capybaras. 

These panthers hunt the other animals using their claws. They also climb trees and can swim in the water bodies found in the subtropical regions. So it is pretty obvious that the climate found in subtropical is the optimum for almost all animals to survive. And in addition, the Panthers do have the ability to adapt accordingly to the climate found here.

6.Will you point down some unique facts about subtropical areas?

The one unique fact about the subtropical areas is about the climate. You can see the regions are experiencing cold climates during winter. And also during summer, they are often experienced with mild heat. However as they are away from tropical regions, the climate condition will be moderate or mild.

The temperatures in summer can go up to 80 degrees Fahrenheit and during winters the maximum temperature can be up to 50 degrees Fahrenheit. So from this data itself, students can easily assume that the largest part of sunlight falls into this area. And this does come directly under Koppen's classification of climate.


Although we name it as humid subtropicals, the humid climate is experienced near 20 degree and 40-degree latitudes.