This page presents Bhutan's climate context for the current climatology, 1991-2020, derived from observed, historical data. Information should be used to build a strong understanding of current climate conditions in order to appreciate future climate scenarios and projected change. You can visualize data for the current climatology through spatial variation, the seasonal cycle, or as a time series. Analysis is available for both annual and seasonal data. Data presentation defaults to national-scale aggregation, however sub-national data aggregations can be accessed by clicking within a country, on a sub-national unit. Other historical climatologies can be selected from the Time Period dropdown list. Data for specific coordinates can be downloaded for in the Data Download page.
Bhutan’s climate is diverse due to dramatic variations in elevation. The Duars Plain tends to be hot and humid; the Lesser Himalaya region is often cooler; while the areas in the Greater Himalayas are closest to that of alpine tundra. The southern belt of the country at the foothills of the Himalayas (150-2,000 meters [m]) above sea level) has a subtropical climate with high humidity, heavy rainfall, and average temperatures of approximately 15°C-30°C year-round. The central belt is characterized by river valleys (2,000-4,000 m above sea level) with cool winters, hot summers between June and September, and moderate rainfall. The Northern belt consists primarily of snowcapped peaks and alpine meadows (4,000 m above sea level) with cold winters and cool summers. Precipitation ranges widely across the country and occurs primarily during the monsoon season between June and September as well as the pre-monsoon season. The country is also be characterized into six agro-climatic regions: alpine, cool temperate, warm temperate, dry sub-tropical, humid sub-tropical, and wet-sub tropical.
There is significant seasonal range in temperatures: the summer months of June – August averaging temperatures of 24°C -29°C, compared to the winter months of December – February which are near 0°C, for the most recent climatology, 1991-2020. Average monthly rainfall follows a similar pattern, in which considerably more rainfall occurs during the summer months (approximately 240 millimeters [mm]) than during the winter months (approximately 90 mm).
- Temperature increases have been experienced in the country since the 1960s. Observations show temperature increases, with minimum temperatures increasing and a faster rate than maximum temperatures.
- On average, temperature has been rising faster in the last half-century. There is higher variability in observed temperatures in February and March.
- Regions at lower elevations and in the south tend to have higher temperatures and greater precipitation, while northern regions are often cooler with less precipitation. Temperatures are higher during summer and decrease over winter months.
- Rainfall in Bhutan is controlled by Southwest monsoon circulation that prevails over the Indian sub-continent during summer months. This produces a seasonal cycle with rainy summer seasons over most of the country lasting from June to September. During this part of the year, most of the country has an almost sub-tropical climate, particularly the southern Dzongkhags.
- Rainfall has increased from June to September, with December to February experiencing increased aridity and is currently the country’s driest season.
- A high degree of rainfall variability and distribution exists spatially within the country. Precipitation is highest near the northern and southern borders of the country.