Are Coastal Cities Warmer?

Coastal cities often paint a picture of beautiful people, sunshine, and great food. Visiting your beach house a few times a year may give you a different experience to coastal city residents. A lifetime of coastal living has taught me that the weather can often have all four seasons in a single day. So, are coastal cities warmer?

Coastal cities are cooler during the summer and warmer during the winter. Water absorbs and releases heat much slower than land, making coastal cities warmer for longer at night while taking longer to become hot in the day. They are also humid because too much moisture in the air prevents sweating.

Who would expect cooler summers and warmer winters? Since coastal cities are so close to the ocean, their temperatures can be unpredictable. Let’s explore the sun’s effect on the land and sea and how the currents help regulate the temperature of specific areas. 

Are Coastal Cities Warmer?

The land heats up quicker during the day than the water, cooling down much faster at night. When the ground heats up, so does the air above it. On the other hand, the ocean warms up and cools down slowly. Consequently, coastal locations tend to be cooler during the day and have a more moderate temperature range than inland places.

The amount of energy you need to increase temperature by 1°C is known as heat capacity. Scientists frequently use the heat capacity per unit mass, also known as the specific heat, to compare substances directly. According to science, water has a larger heat capacity than sand, and larger bodies of water may hold more heat than smaller ones.

The longer the distance between a region and the ocean, the more likely it will have a harsh and varied climate. Continental summers are hotter than coastal summers. Similarly, continental winters are colder than coastal winters. On the other hand, typical coastal weather is overall milder.

Some ocean currents carry chilly water, while others carry warm water, affecting coastal climates. Some of the larger Great Lakes can have a comparable effect on the temperatures of shoreline communities, albeit not as much as the ocean.

The Science Is Evident For California

These effects are evident in the case of a coastal city like California. The coastline during the day is cooler due to chilly sea surface temperatures, whereas the Gulf Coast is warmer because the Gulf Stream transports warm water from the Gulf of Mexico to the Atlantic.

On the other hand, night temperatures on California’s shoreline may be substantially warmer than inland, particularly in winter, because it warms up during the day and takes longer to cool at night.

A Simple Illustration: Your Beach House

Now that we know the ocean keeps the temperature along the coast on the low, let’s create a mental illustration to bring the point home.

Imagine you reside in a lovely beach house near the shore, but a buddy of yours lives approximately three miles inland.

Between you and the ocean, there’s a hill that traps the air on the inland side and blocks the ocean breeze on the coastal side. As a result, you’ll find that your friend’s temperature might easily fluctuate by 10 degrees at any one time.

Why Are Coastal Cities Warmer?

Let’s hope you’ve come prepared because you’re going to need your thinking caps for this one. Don’t worry if science wasn’t your thing at school; I’ll make a scientist of you yet!

The H2O molecule, also known as “water,” is a fascinating natural phenomenon. It exists within many substances, and it’s good at interacting with many other molecules. As a result, it has a lot of heat capacity (remember this from earlier? The amount of energy you need to increase temperature by 1°C).   

“Heat capacity” implies that it takes a lot of heat to raise the temperature of the water. H2O molecules are stubborn and don’t come apart easily. When water molecules combine with other molecules, it goes through “phase shift” (when you boil water, the “phase shift” refers to the change from a liquid to steam).

As it happens, during a change or “phase shift,” water absorbs a tremendous amount of energy. It takes 333.55 kilojoules of energy to melt 1 kilogram of ice, but 4200 kilojoules to evaporate 1 liter of water. Consequently, water is both a heat source and a heat sink.

So, How Does Heat Capacity Relate To Coastal Cities?

You will notice more significant turbulence over land than at sea when flying internationally. This effect occurs because land temperatures fluctuate more quickly than ocean temperatures. In reality, coastal cities are colder in the summer and warmer in the winter, and the science points to the high heat capacity of water.

The atmosphere heats the earth from below, similar to a chimney. The process also removes heat from the surface throughout the day while the wind cools it.

On the other hand, the sea warms top-down thanks to the sun’s rays. However, it doesn’t work very well for warming since heat doesn’t permeate deep into the water. In reality, warming the seas, which span 70 percent of the earth’s surface, is nearly impossible.

Are coastal cities warmer 01

Ocean Currents’ Effect On Coastal City Temperatures

Ocean currents significantly impact the planet’s climate, acting as natural thermostats that regulate the land’s temperature.

Ocean currents regulate the temperature by transporting heat from lower to higher latitudes. The tropical areas, for example, receive a lot of sunshine. Even though more sun shines on these locations, they should become warmer and warmer, but this is not entirely accurate.

What Role Does Wind Play In Coastal Temperatures?

The ocean’s surface can retain vast amounts of heat transported by currents. Since the land has a lesser heat capacity than seas and warms and cools quicker, it’s substantially cooler than waters in the winter.

The air cools significantly as westerly breezes pass across it. Eventually, the wet air is chilly enough to turn into snow when reaching the East Coast. As a result, the East Coast endures bitterly cold winters.

How Do West-Side Coastal Cities Get Their Temperatures?

Sunlight has a higher dispersion area and depth than land. The surface water is warmer than the water at deeper depths. The mountains that flank the shoreline affect the East and the West. Over the seas, the water is relatively warm. It warms the air around it, producing warm, wet air. This air rises over the Pacific and descends to the ground.

Rain is the result of the air cooling and condensing as it climbs. As a result, the west coast receives a lot of precipitation as it gets closer to the mountains. This phenomenon influences the weather in places such as Seattle and Portland. For this reason, the West Coast has a moderate temperature in the summer and winter.

Do Coastal Cities Have More Humidity?

Humidity directly results from ocean current flow that regulates and affects land temperature.

Surface currents deliver cold ocean waters to warm areas along an ocean’s eastern side to cool the region (for example, along the coast of California). In the same breath, the Gulf Stream (a Western Boundary Current) brings warm water down the coast of the United States and up into the high northern latitudes.

It gives the East Coast its famed humidity. On top of that, it keeps Scandinavia and the UK relatively warm. Greater humidity results from higher sea surface temperatures, implying more water vapor in the atmosphere.

Are All Coastal Cities Humid?

When the perspiration on your skin cannot dry due to the presence of water in the ambient air, you will have a feeling of dampness. It is most common in hot coastal environments when the air’s water content is relatively high due to the adjacent ocean, preventing skin water from evaporating.

Typically, there is always some water vapor in the air, and it can only carry a certain amount of vapor. Air is “saturated” when it cannot hold any more moisture. Since coastal cities are in close proximity to large bodies of water, the air always contains a high amount of water vapor. As a result, they are unwilling to receive any additional water.

When people who live inland sweat, the air absorbs the moisture from their bodies and dries their skin. However, since the air in coastal cities becomes saturated with water, it does not absorb water from the skin. Consequently, sweating is far more common in coastal towns, making them more humid than cities situated far from the coast.

Although you are more likely to feel hot and uncomfortable in a seaside area, this may not be the case in every coastal zone. The ability of air to hold water decreases as the temperature drops, so you may not always experience humidity in every coastal area.

What Are Hot Days Like In Coastal Areas?

Since the air in coastal regions has more moisture, humidity is almost a given. More moisture cannot be quickly absorbed by the air, making it more challenging to eliminate perspiration and heat from your body. Inland temperatures with low humidity allow you to sweat more rapidly and eliminate heat from your body on hot days.

A hot day inland will likely be the same temperature by the shore; it will only feel hotter because you can’t sweat as easily along the beach. Furthermore, heat reflects off buildings and structures, making the temperature even hotter.

They decrease air movement, making it seem hotter, and all those air conditioning systems inside the buildings add to the moisture content, making sweating even more difficult.

Does Climate Change Affect Coastal City Temperatures?

There have been numerous heated discussions involving climate change over the past few years. What kind of effects would it have on coastal regions in particular?

In truth, climate change may have a range of effects on coastal locations. It causes the sea level rise, increases the frequency and severity of storms, increases precipitation, and raises ocean temperatures.  

Furthermore, rising carbon dioxide (CO2) levels in the atmosphere cause the ocean to absorb more CO2 gas and become more acidic. As a result, rising acidity has the potential to have severe consequences for coastal and marine ecosystems.

Many locations are already concerned about current difficulties threatening manufactured infrastructure and coastal ecosystems, such as coastline erosion, coastal floods, and water pollution. Dealing with climate change may require new methods for managing land, water, waste, and ecosystems.

Coastal Water Temperatures Will Rise

Coastal seas have warmed throughout the previous century, and patterns indicate a temperature increase as high as 4°F to 8°F. For coastal inhabitants, this means cooler summers and milder winters.

This warming might cause significant changes in coastal habitats, harming animals that live there. Halibut, rock sole, pollock, Alaskan snow crab, and Florida mangrove trees are just a few of the species whose habitats are already shifting.

The Effect Of Rising Sea Levels

The relative sea-level rise is faster where the land is sinking than the global rate. In the United States, locations where the ground is sinking, such as sections of the Gulf Coast, have significantly higher rates of relative sea-level rise.

In the previous 50 years, the relative sea level in coastal Louisiana has risen by eight inches or more, which is almost double the world pace. Subsiding land in the Chesapeake Bay area exacerbates the consequences of relative sea-level rise, putting cities, populated islands, and tidal wetlands at danger of flooding.

The Impact Of Increased Storm Frequency

Storm surges inundate low-lying locations, cause property damage, wreak havoc on transportation networks, ruin habitat, and endanger human health and safety. Low-lying regions like Long Island and New Jersey, for example, were swamped by several feet of water due to Superstorm Sandy’s storm surge in 2012.


The heat on the ocean’s surface, ocean currents, moisture in the air, and climate change all contribute to coastal city temperatures. Despite their unique attributes, coastal cities offer an exciting lifestyle that many people still favor over inland locations.