Climatology Database

Despite its equatorial location, the Galapagos climate is not as tropical as it could be imagined. The island's  topography, ocean currents and winds interact to modulate temperatures and define two distinct seasons.  

Landsat satellite imagery over western Galapagos.
Landsat satellite imagery over western Galapagos showing typical cloud formations in the (a) hot season, 11 Jan 2010 and (b) cool season, 25 Nov 2009.

From January to May, the southeasterly winds weaken, diminishing the influence of cold waters coming from the Perú “Humboldt” Current and the equatorial upwelling. This is referred as the hot season, characterized by elevated sea and air temperatures, and convective rainfall. From June to December, the winds strengthen and cooler temperatures dominate. 

The hot season occurs in the first half of the year and the cool season in the second half of the year; but both seasons are variable in length. A hotter hot season is likely to be longer; starting earlier than average (even in the previous year) and finishing later. A cooler hot season is likely to be shorter.

These conditions generate a persisting layer of shallow clouds and continuous drizzle in the higher windward sides of the islands, and almost no rainfall in the rest of the archipelago. This rain shadow effect creates two broad terrestrial climatic zones: the humid highlands and dry lowlands, with an intervening transition zone.

The climatic zones in Galapagos
The three climatic zones in Galapagos: humid highlands, dry lowlands and transition zone.

Our Meteorological Stations

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Bibliographical References

  • Defeo, O., Castrejón, M., Ortega, L., Kuhn, A. M., Gutiérrez, N. L., & Castilla, J. C. (2013). Impacts of Climate Variability on Latin American Small-scale Fisheries. Ecology and Society, 18(4).

  • Bush, M. B., P. A. Colinvaux, M. Steinitz-Kannan, J. T. Overpeck, J. Sachs, J. E. Cole, Collins, J. L. Conroy, and A. Restrepo. (2010) Forty years of paleoecology on the Galapagos. Galapagos Research, No. 67:55-64

  • Huttel, C. (1995) Vegetación en coladas de lava. ORSTOM y Fundación Charles Darwin, Quito, Ecuador.
  • Robinson, G., and E. del Pino. (1985) El Niño in the Galápagos Islands: The 1982-1983 event. Charles Darwin Foundation, Quito, Ecuador.
  • Sachs, J., S. N. Ladd, J. E. Cole, P. Goyes, D. Manzello, R. Martinez, C. Palacios, G. A. Vecchi, and L. Xie. (2010) Climate and oceanography of the Galápagos in the 21st century: expected changes and research needs. Galapagos Research, No. 67:50-51.
  • Snell, H., & S. Rea. (1999) The 1997-1998 El Niño in Galápagos: Can 34 years of data estimate 120 years of pattern? Noticias de Galápagos No. 60:11-20.
  • Trueman, M. and d’Ozouville, N. (2010) Characterizing the Galapagos terrestrial climate in the face of climate change. Galapagos Research, No. 67.
  • Wolff, M. (2010) Galapagos does not show recent warming but increased seasonality. Noticias de Galápagos 67: 38-44.

The “Charles Darwin Foundation for the Galapagos Islands”, in French “Fondation Charles Darwin pour les îles Galapagos”, Association International sans but lucratif (“AISBL”), has its registered office located at Chaussée de la Hulpe 177 Bte 20 (rez) - 1170, Brussels, and is registered under the trade registry of Brussels under the number 0409.359.103.

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