Specific character of Russian climate - exclusive variety and variability of weather conditions - is determined by the scale of the state territory. Russia has not only the greatest extension from west to east, but also is widely spread from north to south. Extreme northern point - 82 degrees north - is located on the Rudolf Island (the Franz Josef Land). Extreme southern point - 41 degrees north - in Dagestan. The difference is 41 degrees, or more than 4,6 thousand kilometres.
It results in a great difference of solar radiation received by the earth's surface. The changes of the climate from north to south are more notable in the European part of Russia, in Western and Middle Siberia where the influence of oceans and mountains is minimum. In these regions of the country arctic climate changes into subarctic, and then into the temperate one. Borders between climatic zones go practically along parallels since solar heat plays a leading part.
Climatic zoning in the Russian Federation is rather distinct and peculiar to the most part of the country. The plains of Russia are well pervious and 'ventilated' by air masses not only from Atlantic, but also from arctic regions; Siberia, Middle and Central Asia. The air streams coming to the territory of Russia, do not subordinate its climate entirely, as in Western Europe. Within such vast open spaces all coming masses of air noticeably change their properties, first of all under the influence of the 'solar factor' and consequently climatic zoning distinction is proved much more sharply.
The most part of the Russian coast adjoins the Arctic Ocean, besides, there are almost no mountains to form a natural barrier before the plains. Northern winds can penetrate without any limits practically everywhere in the territory of Russia.
Almost all waves of cold, which regularly stream over Russia, come from arctic regions. Russia adjoins the Atlantic Ocean less, than the Arctic and Pacific Oceans: only remote internal seas of the Atlantic Ocean (the Baltic, Black and Azov) wash Russian coast. The ocean itself is remote from Russia on significant distance - a half of Europe and the western areas of the Russian Federation lie between them. Nevertheless, the western "window" open to Atlantic is vital for the most part of Russia since the Gulf Stream brings a lot of heat from tropics to the coasts of Europe. The Atlantic Ocean moderates the climate of Europe: warms it in winter and cools in summer. Above a half of the territory and the majority of population of Russia experience the influence of Atlantic. It is most prominent in the European part of the country in winter. But even in Siberia, especially in western territories, Atlantic softens winter colds and summer heat.
Atlantic air in Russia plays one more important role: it brings the main part of atmospheric precipitation. Most of all precipitation in the European part of Russia is brought by cyclones from the Mediterranean and Black Seas.
In the European part of Russia, especially in its southern half, Atlantic from time to time also "delivers" warm dry weather. It usually happens in the second half of summer and in the beginning of autumn when the air from the Mediterranean penetrates together with anticyclones. In such cases quiet, clear and warm weather sets in over extensive territory - it is Indian summer. Basically, the influence of Atlantic on the climate of Russia is beneficial: without its winds it would be more severe.
The Far East coast of Russia stretches on thousand kilometers, but the influence of the Pacific Ocean on the climate of the country is noticeable only over rather small territory. Numerous mountain ridges, bordering the great northern plains of Eurasia in the east, prevent penetration of the Pacific air inland. The Far East is a unique region of Russia with typically monsoon climate. In summer the Pacific cyclones penetrate rather far to the west and then strong long rains cover entirely Primorsk and Khabarovsk Territories, the Amurskaya Oblast and even a part of Transbaikalia.
On the most part of the territory of Russia the continental climate is formed - with low precipitation and sharp distinction in temperatures of winter and summer, night and day. According to long observations the number of days in a year with temperature lower then 0 ?С is closely concerned with duration of winters in Russia. It noticeably increases in the territory of Russia from southwest to northeast - from 60 days in Southern Dagestan up to 300 days and more on arctic archipelagoes.
In most densely populated regions of the Russian Federation - in central and southern parts of the European Russia, and also in the south of Western Siberia - this parameter changes within the limits of 60-150 days. All the territory of Russia lies in the zone of winters with average temperature of the coldest month below -5 ?С, that fact distinguishes Russia from Western Europe very greatly, where winter temperatures usually do not fall below 0 ?С. The basic mass of Russian population lives in regions with average temperature of January from -5 ?С down to -15 ?С. This fact, in its turn, directly influences the variety of specific social and economic features of the country, in particular, duration of heating of dwellings and other premises, needs of population for winter clothes, calorie content of food and other factors.
Regularity of winds with strength more than 10 metres per second in winter period determines "climatic harshness". Regular winter winds are characteristic only of seaside regions and Pre-Caspian territories of Russia. In continental regions, especially in hollows of Siberian mountains, this parameter is sharply reduced. This, in its turn, entails, on the one hand, the drop of weather harshness in the frostiest areas of the northern hemisphere - in the mountains of Northeast Siberia. On the other hand, regularity of winter temperature inversions and, hence, probability of stagnation of atmospheric emissions and smogs formation in cities rises sharply in such regions.
The number of days in a year with temperature above +15 ?С characterizes duration of warm summer weather. Though the general form of the parameter's modification is inverse to that of winter duration - increase from northeast to southwest - details of variability of the parameter are more complicated. The summer weather of continental regions is warmer than that of the sea ones at the same latitude; the influence of a relief on duration of warm weather in summer is also stronger.
In contrast to winter temperatures, the summer ones in Russia are rather strictly connected to geographical zoning. The coldest summer in Russia is on glaciers of big arctic islands (the Novaya Zemlya) and at peaks of high Caucasian mountains (the Elbrus, Dykhtau, Koshtantau, Shkhara, and others). It is sometimes below 0 ?С in July here. The similar temperature is observed in summer only on the coasts of Antarctica.
The absolute record of maximum temperature in Russia (+45 ?С) was observed in the Lower Volga region, near salines Elton and Baskunchak. Each of these natural reservoirs is situated in a closed hollow where in the afternoon the air is brought to a great heat. The highest in Russia average annual temperature (+14,1 ?С) and simultaneously the warmest winter one (4,7 ?С in January) happens in Sochi - the city located on the Black Sea coast, protected by the mountains of Caucasus. In summer time the temperature in Sochi is not so high as in steppe areas of Northern Caucasus, in Southern Siberia and on the Far East, due to day breezes blowing from the sea.