Our database covers a total of 48 countries in Western and Central Europe, from the north of Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia; to Norway, Sweden and Finland slightly below the arctic circle; from Portugal and the Eastern part of Iceland; to Greece and the Western part of Ukraine and of the Russian Federation.

By alphabetical order: Albania, Algeria, Andorra, Austria, Belarus, Belgium, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Faroe Islands, Finland, France, Germany, Gibraltar, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Macedonia, Malta, Moldova, Monaco, Morocco, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Russian Federation, San Marino, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Tunisia, United Kingdom, Ukraine, Vatican City State, Yugoslavia.

The land is described from north to south and from west to east.

Iceland was formed by numerous volcanoes, many of which are still active. Four-fifth of the island is deserts, and barren, denuded mountains with peaks above 1000 m, Hvannadalshnukur (2,119 m) on the south, is the highest point in the country.

Ireland consists in greater parts of hilly terrain with moderate elevation of 300-400 m. There are some flat, low lying regions in the middle of the Island, and some mountains and chains along the coasts reaching 700 m altitude in the north and 1000 m in the southeast.

In Britain, the Pennines, a mountain chain of about 1000-1400 m altitude, extends from Scotland southwards to mid-England. Lowland areas are east and southeast of this chain.

The most outstanding topographical feature of Scandinavia is the Scandinavian Chain running from southwest to northeast along the entire Scandinavian peninsula. This chain with a few peaks at about 2500 m altitude is situated near the west coast of Norway. Mountains more than 2000 m high are found close behind the coastline in western and northern Norway. Behind the coastal mountains and further inland, there are large mountain plateaus ranging from 1000 to 3000 m in altitude in southern Norway, and from about 300 to 500 m in northern Norway. The eastern part of southern Norway slopes slowly towards the southeast and is dissected by several rivers leading down to the Oslo fjord or the coast of Skagerrak. Further to the southeast, there are large plains with some large lakes followed by the uplands of Gotaland in southern Sweden which rise to about 400 m in altitude. The remainder of southern Sweden and most of central Sweden are regions of flat lowlands.

Denmark is a region of flat lowlands with very small east-west extension. Northern France, the Netherlands, western Belgium and northern Germany are also lowlands containing only some isolated hills and mountains. In the eastern parts of Belgium and in Luxembourg, there are the Ardennes and other mountain chains rising to about 1000 m of elevation. Central Germany consists for the most parts of hilly regions with some mountain chains with an altitude of about 1200-1400 m. Further east, a flat lowland region: the North European Plain, extends from west to east across Poland, Belarus, Ukraine and the Russian Federation. The western part of France consists of flat lowlands. In the southern center part of France, there is the Massif Central which is separated from the Alps by the Rhône-Saone gap. Further south, there are the Pyrenees which join the Cordillera Cantabrica in Spain, both ranges are west-east oriented and 2500-3000 m high. Northeast of France, the terrain increases steadily to the mountain ranges of the Vosges and the Jura Mountains. These two ranges, with peak heights of 1400 to 1700 m, are oriented from southwest to northeast. They consist partly of extended ridges with longitudinal valleys and partly of undulatory plateaus which have table heights of about 1000 m . The Alps extend from the French (west) part which is north-south oriented with peak heights of 4800 m, over the Swiss, German (north), Italian (south) and Austrian parts which are west-east oriented with a crest height of about 2000 m and peak heights of 3000-4000 m. Further north is the northern Alpine fore land, a hilly terrain intersected by rivers and lakes. The western part of the Alps is connected to the south with the Apennini chains which are northwest southeast oriented and extends to the central Italy with peak heights of 2000 m and more. Enclosed between the Apennini and the Alps, there is the wide funnel-shaped Po valley basin, the only large area of lowland on the northern side of the Mediterranean.

North east of the Alps, the Sudeten mountains located on the border of the Czech Republic and Poland, reach 1500 m. South east of the Sudeten mountains, the Carpathian mountains reach 2000 m, they stretch from the north of Slovakia to the east of Romania. In Hungary, between the Danube river and the Carpathian mountains, lies the Great Plain: a region of marshy lowlands.

Going south to Italy, the gulf of Venezia joins the Balkan peninsula. The Dinaric Alps embrace the greater part of the western half of this peninsula, including Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, as far as the Albanian border in the south. They continue as the Pindhos Mountains which include the whole territory of Albania, the greater part of Greece and Kriti. The higher ridges and plateaus of the two mountain systems, about 2000 and 3000 m in altitude, run parallel to the coast and usually in close proximity to it. Another entity consists of the coastal areas of the eastern Mediterranean. This includes the islands and coastal regions which are sheltered from the severe continental winters by mountain ranges. In Sicily, the mountains have mainly an elevation of 1000 m with some isolated peaks of 2000 m or 3000 m (Etna).

The Iberian peninsula is one of the most mountainous countries in Europe. South of the Cordillera Cantabrica and the Pyrenees, the interior is formed chiefly by the central plateau, which is divided in two sub plateaus: an upper one having altitudes between 700 and 900 m (Meseta Septentrionale) and a lower one situated to the south between 500 m and 800 m (Meseta Meridionale). To the west, it has a gentle slope towards Portugal and the Atlantic Coast. The greatest heights are encountered in the Pyrenees (3400 m) in the north and in the Sierra Nevada (3500 m) in the south.

The north of Africa consists in approximately parallel east-west topographic zones. The narrow, discontinuous alluvial plains along the coast are separated from the Sahara by the ranges and plateaus of the Atlas Mountains. The Tell Atlas reaches heights of more than 2,300 m. Separating the Tell Atlas from the Saharan Atlas is a semiarid plateau with an average elevation of 1,100 m. In the east, the plateau merges with the Aures Mountains.

The climate of Europe is dominated by a westerly flow of cyclonic depressions which are sometimes blocked by stationary areas of high pressure. Although southern areas enjoy long periods of cloudless skies during summer, European weather can vary rapidly, with significant differences from year to year. In the following, the climate of Europe is described essentially in terms of the cloudiness which affects solar radiation.

The purest oceanic climate is found in Britain and Ireland. The winters can be as mild as on the Mediterranean coast, although the summers are much cooler. In Britain, skies as a whole are cloudy, and the proportion of sky covered by low cloud (2000 m) increases from southeast to northwest. Among the mountains, it increases still more markedly. On the whole, skies are clearest in late spring and early summer, and cloud amounts tend to reach a maximum in November and December. In Spring and early summer low Stratus cloud is common on the northeast coast of Britain. Radiation fog is most frequent inland, in the late autumn and early winter when given quiet weather, fog formed overnight may last through the succeeding day, especially in broad damp river basins. Advection fogs are most common on the coast, in the late spring and early summer, when warm air from the land may cross water that is considerably cooler. Low Stratus cloud over high ground most commonly occurs in autumn and winter when maritime tropical air or returning maritime polar air with a long fetch over the Atlantic approaches from the warm seas to the southwest and moves on to the cooler land so the cloud base is lowered.

Scandinavia contains some of the cloudiest regions in the world with considerable cloudiness throughout the year. The greatest cloudiness occurs in the high mountain regions of Norway and Sweden, and along the western, northwestern and north coasts of Norway. Autumn and winter are the seasons of the greatest cloudiness with monthly averages of 65-80%. The highest number of cloudy days with about 200 days annually, is experienced on the western and northwestern slopes of the Scandinavian mountain chain. In a belt along the Scandinavian western, northwestern and northern coasts, the number of clear days is small, averaging 25-35 days/year, the high mountain regions of the Scandinavian peninsula experience an average of 35-45 clear days/year. The foggiest areas are the high mountain regions of the Scandinavian peninsula and the west coast of Gotland. Within these areas, the annual fog frequency averages 20-25% or even more. In general, autumn and winter are the seasons of most frequent fog, but because of the temperature extremes of the ocean surface being delayed 2-3 months in time in relation to those of the earth's surface, some coastal waters and coastal districts are more exposed to fog in spring and summer. This is the case along the southern coast of Norway. The same also applies to the coast of Sweden along the Baltic sea and its gulfs. Summer is also the foggiest season along the coast in northern Norway. Because of frequent föhn winds , southeast and southern Sweden are favored by a very small frequency of cloudy days, averaging 120-150 annually. The coastal waters of southern Sweden experience advection fog in spring and early summer. The highest frequency of clear days occurs in eastern Sweden near the gulf of Bothnia and the Baltic sea where it averages 75-100 days. A secondary area of rather high frequency of clear days is experienced in a belt along the south eastern and southern coast of Norway with a mean annual frequency of about 55 days.

In Denmark and on the Baltic coast, the frequency of clear days lies to about 35-45 per year. Advection fog is common throughout the year and accounts for the high frequency of fog along the western coast of Denmark and its German border (the Schleswig-Holstein region).

The coastal type of oceanic climate in northern France, Flanders and the lowlands of Belgium, the entire territory of the Netherlands and the lowlands of the northern Germany, shows greater contrasts of temperature than in Britain. Winters become colder with a lowering of the mean temperature, the decrease becoming more marked towards the north and the east. The winters are also humid, and grayness of the skies adds to the lengthening of the nights. Summer temperatures are similar to those in Britain but the weather appears duller because it is rainy, often more in summer than in autumn. As in Britain, the weather is sometimes very changeable. Further east and south, in the uplands of eastern Belgium, Luxembourg and central Germany, the distance from the sea and the sporadic occurrence of continental influences or modifications due to the relief in the neighborhood of mountain slopes, cause more pronounced annual ranges of temperature, mainly on account of the progressive lowering of winter temperatures. Winters are dry and relatively severe, and the absence of snowfall is unusual. The shortness of the intermediate seasons, autumn and spring, causes the transition to be more abrupt, and the contrasts of temperature more noticeable. Cloudiness varies from frontal to convective type of cloud corresponding with variation of maritime to continental climate. Cloudiness averages annually between 60 and 70% in the entire region. Differences occur between summer and winter months: in summer the uplands and chains show the maximum values of 70% or more, the minimum values of 60% occur on the lee side of the chains and in the coastal areas. In winter cloudiness decreases from west to east in the range approximately 80 to 70%. Differences in the seasonal variation of temperature and moisture between land and sea affect the occurrence of fog: the maximum probability for fog over the continent is to be expected in autumn due to radiation cooling at night, whereas the coastal area has a maximum fog frequency in December.

The lower regions of the French Normandy have a pure oceanic climate like Britain's, whilst the other northern provinces of France have a coastal type of oceanic climate with greater contrasts of temperature. The western central part of France, between the Garonne and the Loire, enjoys a special climate. More favored than Britain on account of its southerly latitude, it is on the other hand, sufficiently far from the Pyrenees to escape the effects of this barrier. Thus it has the advantage over regions situated to the south of Garonne, to have less precipitation and more sunshine. This advantage decreases to the east and southeast towards the Massif Central, around which a sub oceanic type of climate prevails. This climate has more pronounced annual ranges of temperatures and an increasing number of days with frost. There are frequent dry springs, thundery showers in the summer and a maximum of precipitation in the late autumn due to depression.

Continental influences are felt mainly in the eastern part of France, in Luxembourg, in the Ardennes and further east in the uplands of Central Germany. More continental influences are noticeable in France, in the plateaus of lower Burgundy and in some regions bordering the valley of the Saone. They are also seen in certain depressions in the Massif Central and in the Alps, in enclosed plains sheltered from the westerly winds where a decrease in rainfall results in an extreme type of climate. The summers are hot with an increase of phenomena due to convection and the winters are dry and relatively severe. During summer, the number of clear days is least in the surrounding of the Vosges, Jura and the Massif Central, the maximum values of clear days occur in the high mountain ranges of the Pyrenees and southern Alps. In winter, the greatest numbers of cloudy days occur in the area of lower Burgundy and the Paris basin and further east in the uplands, the minimum number in cloudy days occurs in the high mountain ranges.

The continental influence increases eastwards in the northern alpine fore land from the Swiss part eastwards to the Austrian part. The climate of the northern Alpine fore land is in all parts mainly governed by the influence of the Alps. This is especially the case during northerly flow due to the upwind effects which are not so much a function of the relative difference in height but rather a function of the distance, wind wards of the base of the Alps. East of the Jura mountains begin the Swiss part of the northern Alpine fore land. The lowest parts of the plains are located at the southern foot of the Jura so that the cold air flowing down the Alpine valleys at night is trapped here. Thus ground fog or low Stratus with tops between 600 and 700 m builds up in the valleys in late autumn and winter mainly before the surface is covered with snow. There are significant differences in cloudiness between the northern and southern Alpine fore lands, the mean annual cloud cover is as low as about 50% over the south slope of the Alps, but it amounts to 65% over the north slope.

The inner alpine regions are dry and have sunny valleys, and the scanty precipitation is rather uniformly distributed over the year. Valleys which are oriented from west to east receive considerably less precipitation, whereas the north south valleys may receive abundant rainfall due to hill effects with north westerly flow.

In the Po valley and the northern Adriatic, in summer, fair weather prevails due to the Azores high, interrupted by frequent instability manifestations, favored by the weak thermal depressions that form over the area during daytime. In autumn, winter and spring, lee and Mediterranean depressions occur, alternating with periods of no perturbation due to the influence of the central European anticyclone. In wintertime, the whole Po valley is occupied by a cold air layer near the ground which has a thickness of about 1000 m and causes heavy and very frequent fogs.

The climates of the Iberian peninsula, the Italy and the Balkans are similar: in mountainous regions over 2000 m, a Mountainous climate prevails; in lower regions, the climate is Mediterranean. The outstanding features of the Mediterranean climate are windy, wet, mild winters and relatively calm hot dry summers. The transitional season of spring is unsettled but autumn is relatively short with a fairly decisive change to the winter regime. The quiet sunny weather characteristic of the Mediterranean summer is established when the Azores anticyclone intensifies and develops an extension towards the Alps. This development also takes place intermittently during the spring but seldom becomes firmly established much before mid-june. The Eurasian winter anticyclone collapses quite quickly in April and ceases to represent a potential source of cold air for the Mediterranean. Partly for this reason warm weather is earlier established in the eastern basin than in the western and central Mediterranean which are still liable to disturbances producing windiness and disturbed weather in May.

The Atlantic depressions which move eastwards across northern Europe bring frequent waves of cold air from the northwest which penetrate into the Mediterranean and encounter warm moist air. The resulting vertical instability leads to the development of vigorous depressions which bring considerable rainfall and frequent gales to the Mediterranean. From time to time, the eastward march of traveling depressions in the temperature zone is interrupted by cold air outbreaks from the Arctic via the Norwegian sea or over Russia. At any time between October and May such a cold northerly air stream may break right through to tropical latitudes. The great thermal contrast leads to very active depressions which commonly form in the tropical Atlantic or the desert of north Africa and move into the Mediterranean.

Around the Mediterranean, the frequency of cloudy skies is relatively low. There are clear skies about 20-25 days/month in the hot season. In Winter, between 5 and 9 cloudy days/month occur on average and between 5 and 10 clear days/month. The cloudy days appear most frequent and the clear days less frequent in the eastern part of the Mediterranean. Over the great part of the Mediterranean, the frequency of fog or low clouds is less than 2% at any time of the day throughout the year. Outside north Africa, the reduction in visibility caused by dust is most frequently in the form of haze carried northwards by Sirocco winds. The dust is eventually washed out of the air, commonly in drizzle and rain where the air stream is lifted over a mountain barrier, when this does not occur or is not complete, Saharan dust may reach as far as England.

During the cool season mist and fog mainly affects the northern parts of the Mediterranean. The northern Adriatic especially the shores of the gulf of Venezia, is the area where fogs are particularly frequent. The mountainous regions of the Dinaric Alps also have a great numbers of foggy days (over 150 days/year in the Ljubljana basin) especially in the cold season, there is also strong cloudiness in the hot months of the year in these areas.

The geographic area covered by our database amounts to a total population of around 700 Million people. The capitals and the most populated centers for all countries are given in the maps below.
Stations from the IDMP Network measure both daylight and solar radiation.

IDMP Network/Nantes, Lat.: 47°09' N, Long.: 1°20' W
IDMP Network/Vaulx-en-Velin/Lyon,Lat.: 45°47' N, Long.: 4°59' E

IDMP Network/Freiburg, Lat.: 47°59' N, Long.: 7°50' E
IDMP Network/Hamburg, Lat.: 53°36' N, Long.: 10°06' E

IDMP Network/Athinai, Lat.: 37°58' N, Long.: 23°43' E

IDMP Network/Eindhoven, Lat.: 51°27' N, Long.: 5°29' E

IDMP Network/Lisboa, Lat.: 38°45' N, Long.: 9°08' W

Russian Federation
IDMP Network/Moskva, Lat.: 55°42' N, Long.: 37°30' E
IDMP Network/Voyeykovo/Sankt Peterburg, Lat.: 59°54' N, Long.: 30°42' E

IDMP Network/Bratislava, Lat.: 48°10' N, Long.: 17°05' E

IDMP Network/Gavle, Lat.: 60°40' N, Long.: 17°10' E
IDMP Network/Kiruna, Lat.: 67°50' N, Long.: 20°25' E
IDMP Network/Norrkoping, Lat.: 58°35' N, Long.: 16°09' E

IDMP Network/Geneva, Lat.: 46°20' N, Long.: 6°01' E

United Kingdom
IDMP Network/Edinburgh, Lat.: 55°57' N, Long.: 3°12' E
IDMP Network/Garston, Lat.: 51°43' N, Long.: 0°22' W
IDMP Network/Manchester, Lat.: 53°28' N, Long.: 2°14' W
IDMP Network/Sheffield, Lat.: 53°23' N, Long.: 1°29' W

The earth is divided in 24 time zones which are 15° wide in longitude. Time zones refer to the Greenwich meridian located at a longitude of 0°. The GMT time zone is centered on Greenwich and covers the area between longitude -7.5° (or 7.5°W of Greenwich) and longitude +7.5° (or 7.5°E of Greenwich). The GMT+1 time zone covers the area between longitude +7.5° (or 7.5°E of Greenwich) and longitude +22.5° (or 22.5°E of Greenwich). All other time zones are defined following the same pattern.

These time zones are used over seas and oceans, however many countries do not use the time zone in which they are located: France, Spain and Portugal for instance, use GMT+1, even though they are located in the GMT zone. The list below indicates the time zones used by all countries in Western and Central Europe. All these countries, except Algeria, Iceland, Morocco and Tunisia use summer time: they add an hour to their legal time, from the last Sunday in March, to the Saturday before last Sunday in October. This is also mentioned in the list. Clock time is the time used in a country at any time in the year. Since most countries in Western and Central Europe use summer time, summer time is also used over seas and oceans.

Iceland, Morocco.

GMT+0 with summer time
Faroe Islands, Ireland, United Kingdom.

Algeria, Tunisia.

GMT+1 with summer time
Albania, Andorra, Austria, Belgium, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia,
Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Germany, Gibraltar, Hungary,
Italy, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Macedonia, Malta, Monaco,
Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, San Marino, Slovakia,
Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Vatican City State, Yugoslavia.

GMT+2 with summer time
Belarus, Bulgaria, Estonia, Finland, Greece, Latvia, Moldova,
Romania, Russian Federation (Kaliningrad Region), Ukraine.

GMT+3 with summer time
Russian Federation.

GMT+4 with summer time
Russian Federation.

Codes are given in the pages specific to each country.
  1. "European Daylighting Atlas", Draft, European Commission, Directorate General XII, 1996.

  2. "Climatic Data Handbook for Europe, Climatic data for the design of solar energy systems", Commission of the European Communities, Kluwer Academic Publishers, 1992.

  3. "European Solar Radiation Atlas, Volume I: Horizontal Surfaces", Commission of the European Communities, Verlag Tüv Rheinland, 1984.

  4. "European Solar Radiation Atlas: Volume II: Tilted Surfaces", Commission of the European Communities, Verlag Tüv Rheinland, 1984.

  5. "Climates of Northern and Western Europe", World Survey of Climatology, Vol.5, H.E. Landsberg, Elsevier, Amsterdam, 1970.

  6. "Climates of Central and Southern Europe", World Survey of Climatology, Vol.6, H.E. Landsberg, Elsevier, Amsterdam, 1970.

  7. "Weather in the Mediterranean, 2nd edition", Meteorological Office 391, HMSO, London, 1962.
European Commission
Directorate General XII
200 Rue de la loi
B-1049 Bruxelles
DGXII on the Internet.
International Commission
on Illumination (CIE)

Kegelgasse 27
A-1030, Wien
Tel: +43 171431870
Fax: +43 1713083818
CIE on the Internet.

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