Climate Change\|Climate Change Primary

Scottish climate

Glenfinnan monument (100 x 100)

Scotland has a temperate climate with four seasons: spring, summer, autumn and winter.

In Scotland we are often frustrated by the ever-changing weather conditions but the positive side is that our temperate climate tends to produce milder and safer climatic conditions than other climate zones where hurricanes and severe floods and droughts can be regular occurrences.

Download 'Scottish Climate' presentation.

PowerPoint presentation illustrating Scotland's temperate climate.

Gulf Stream

Scotland’s climate is warmed by the Gulf Stream. This is a current of warm water that moves from the Gulf of Mexico across the Atlantic Ocean towards Great Britain and is just one part of a huge global oceanic circulation. The Gulf Stream warms the air above it and protects us from extremes of temperature that affect other regions on the same northerly latitude as Scotland - such as Hudson's Bay in North America where the sea freezes in winter.


Average maximum temperatures in Scotland vary between 5°C in winter and 20°C-25°C in summer. The coldest ever recorded temperature of -27.2°C was recorded at Altnaharra in the Highlands in 1995 while the highest recorded temperature of 32.9°C was recorded in Greycrook in the Scottish Borders in 2003.


Rainfall totals vary enormously across Scotland with the western highlands being one of the wettest places in Europe with an average annual rainfall of 4577mm. The east coast tends to be much drier with some parts receiving only 550mm of rain - putting it on a par with Morocco, Sydney and Barcelona.

Recently published research from the Institute of Physics shows that although overall Scotland is not much wetter than it was 63 years ago, the way it rains has changed. When it rains it is much more intense.

Annual average sunshine totals vary from as little as 711-1140 hours in the highlands and the north-west, up to 1471-1540 hours on the extreme eastern and south-western coasts.

Reflective questions

  • How can we make effective use of outdoor learning approaches to engage children and young people in learning about climate and its impacts on our lifestyles, culture and natural heritage?
  • How can we actively engage learners in measuring and recording weather data to improve mathematics and numeracy skills?
  • How can we use weather and climate issues to connect our learning to people and places around the world?