This page presents China'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.
China’s climate varies dramatically according to a number of variables, including altitude, latitude, and distance from the coast. China’s annual cycle conceals considerable regional variation. Southern China experiences a tropical climate, with high temperatures and heavy rainfall particularly during the summer (May-September) while the mountainous regions of Southwestern China experience more moderate temperatures. Tibet and Inner Mongolia experience much harsher climates, with very cold winters and particularly strong winds for high-altitude regions. Central and eastern China experience fewer climate extremes but summers are known to be notably humid. The variability of climate (i.e. higher variability results in less predictability) has been shown to be greater in the north of China, compared to the South.
- Between 1901-2010 the average surface air temperature of mainland China increased by 0.98°C with a particular acceleration in warming since 1980.
- As of 2010, China experienced warming at around 0.25°C per decade.
- No statistically significant changes in annual average rainfall patterns were detected in China between 1960 and 2010.
- Intra-annual changes however, were significant as Spring and Autumn precipitation rates declined 3.2 mm/ year and 3.6 mm/ year respectively, this was offset by increases in summer precipitation.
- Regionalized changes in precipitation have also been documented: annual average precipitation declined in North-eastern China between 1960 and 2010 while simultaneously increasing in Western, Central and Southern areas.