Is there a specific temperature range that is considered to be the change from Continentality to Oceanity? Would this temperature change with latitude?

Would be nice if someone could point me to some literature on the subject.

Thank you!

  • $\begingroup$ You mean something like 'The temperature is XX K lower above the ocean than above the land'? Have a look for the key word 'Land-Sea-Breeze'. Land breezes and sea breezes evolve through differences in the land surface and sea surface temperatures. But depending on the day time the one or the other evolves. $\endgroup$ Apr 29, 2016 at 14:09

2 Answers 2


The borders are fluent between continentality and maritimity. However, there are several indices, aiming to clarify this question. For instance, the probably earliest one is from Gorczynski (1920): $$K_{Gorczynski} = 1.6 \cdot \frac{A}{\sin \varphi} - 14$$ where $A$ is the annual temperature amplitude of the location and $\varphi$ the latitude of the location. Another one, which is more often used, is from Iwanow (1956): $$K_{Iwanow} = 260 \cdot \frac{\Delta T}{\varphi}$$ where $\varphi$ is the latitude again and $$\Delta T=T_\mathrm{max} - T_\mathrm{min}$$ where $T_\mathrm{max}$ is the temperature maximum and $T_\mathrm{min}$ the temperature minimum. The results are characterized as following:

  • K < 100: maritime
  • 100 < K < 200: continental
  • K > 200: strongly continental

To answer the second part of the question: as the indices show, the latitude needs to be considered. Currently I do not have the original publication by Gorczynski or Iwanow here, however there are some papers comparing different indices (there are several more), for example this one. Furthermore, the indices can be looked up in the most climatology basic literature and encyclopedia. At least, it is needed to mention that Gordon Stanger hits the point in his answer in the last sentence: The continentality is just one variable - there are several more. Look for climate classifications, like those from Köppen & Geiger or Schultz.

Edit: Original reference

Gorczynski, L. (1920): Sur le calcul du degre de continentalisme et son application dans la climatologie. In: Geografiska Annaler 2, p. 324-331.


There is no such criterion. However, I'm sure one could devise one. For example, at any given location collect the differentials between daily maximum and minimum temperature. Average these differentials over each month and plot month vs mean differential temperature. Do this for many oceanic, continental and coastal locations. Plot the graphs, compare, and define your own criteria for different categories.

But why? What purpose would it serve?


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