Distribution of temperature varies both horizontally and vertically.

Horizontal Distribution of Temperature

Distribution of temperature across the latitudes over the surface of the earth is called its horizontal distribution. On maps, the horizontal distribution of temperature is commonly shown by Isotherms, lines connecting points that have equal temperatures. The factors responsible for the uneven distribution of temperature are:

  • Latitude
  • Land and Sea Contrast
  • Relief and Altitude
  • Ocean Currents
  • Winds
  • Vegetation Cover
  • Nature of the soil
  • Slope and Aspect

Horizontal Distribution of Temperature in January

In January, the sun shines vertically overhead near the Tropic of Capricorn. Hence it is summer in southern hemisphere and winter in northern hemisphere.

Horizontal Distribution of Temperature in July

During this period the sun shines vertically overhead near the Tropic of Cancer. Hence, high temperatures are found in the entire northern hemisphere.

Vertical Distribution of Temperature

The permanent snow on high mountains, even in the tropics, indicate the decrease of temperature with altitude. The average rate of temperature decrease upward in the troposphere is about 60°C per km, extending to the tropopause.