Climate research also includes the study of very small-scale climatic regions, an area of investigation known as microclimatology. A microclimate is one that extends from a particular kind of surface - for example, a lawn, a pond, a parking lot - to a height at which this climate begins to blend with the general climatic conditions of a given locality. Microclimates are, in fact, the aerial environments in which individual plants and animals live. A landscape is a complex mosaic of many such climates - from urban street canyons or small vegetation canopies on down to the atmosphere surrounding the bodies of individual organisms. These climates, although influenced by larger-scale regional conditions, are essentially created by the energy "budget" of the local surface where the given microclimate occurs.

The microclimate of a surface consists of a relatively thin boundary layer covering the surface, and the airspace above it that is influenced - to a lesser extent - by the surface. Temperature, wind velocity, and often humidity and radiation change more with height in this fluctuating airspace than in higher air layers. A microclimate is usually assumed to extend to a height at which 99 percent of the prevailing local conditions of temperature and wind velocity are reached. This height is determined largely by the relative strength of local air turbulence.