Earth's Angle and Sunlight

by Jason Amores Sumpter
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the equator receives more sunlight than anywhere else on Earth, and this is why it's the warmest part of our planet now, toe. Understand why we need to look at how the sun's rays hit the earth, but for our purposes right now, I want you to pretend that the equator is just this red line I'm drawing through. The planet will in a moment get toe Why the image has the earth tilted and what's important about that. But for now, I want you to pretend that the equator is just level with the lines of the sun's rays. So the sun's rays that hit the Earth more or less straight on their coming in, more or less perpendicular to the earth's surface. Those rays air going to spread their energy over a smaller area than, for example, these raise up here that come in at an angle to the earth's surface, right? You sort of have an angle there because of that angle. Thes raise up top are going to spread out over a larger area, whereas these raised by the equator are gonna be concentrated in a smaller area. So let's just assume it's the same amount of energy. In both regions, you have the same amount of energy in a smaller area versus the same amount of energy in a larger area. Well, in the larger area, you're gonna have to spread your energy thinner, right. That means you're gonna have less energy per area. So it's gonna be colder. That's why it's colder up at the polls and warmer at the equator. It's due to how the energy from the sunlight is being spread out. And that's due to the angle at which these rays air hitting the earth. Now let's get to the tilt of the earth in this image. So the Earth experiences seasons, you know, and we refer to them as spring, summer or fall winter. Really? What we're talking about, though, is the tilt of the Earth's axis. So this line is what we know as the Earth's axis. It's the axis around which the earth spins on a daily basis. Right, So here, in this image of the earth revolving around the sun, you can see these little purple circular arrows, those air showing the earth spinning around its axis. Now, this axis, actually, this access the position of this axis relative to the sun changes. So sometimes, like we see in our image, the axis is pointed away from the sun, whereas other times that access is actually gonna be pointed towards the sun. No. When the access is pointed away from the sun, we can see that this upper half of the earth, which we call the Northern Hemisphere that northern Hemisphere is basically leaning away from the sun and notice that, you know, assuming that the raise in this image are, you know, all the rays coming off the sun. Obviously, it's a gross oversimplification, but notice how it's only getting to sun rays, and the Southern Hemisphere is getting all the rest. Well, when the Northern Hemisphere is pointed away from the sun like that, that's what we call winter right? That's when the Northern Hemisphere is colder, because it's getting even less sunlight than usual. Now, when the Northern Hemisphere points towards the sun, notice that now it's going to be getting more sun rays than the Southern Hemisphere. That's what we call summer. So the Earth's axis is changing position relative to the sun as it moves around the sun, and that's what we experience as seasons, and hopefully this little drawing here made it clear that the Northern Hemisphere and the Southern Hemisphere are actually on opposite seasonal schedules, so to speak. You know, we just refer Thio, our Northern Hemispheres, cold months as winter. But that's actually going to be the hottest time of the year for the Southern Hemisphere. And likewise when its warmest in the Northern Hemisphere. It's going to be colder in the Southern Hemisphere. So you know these terms for fall. I'm sorry for seasons. Fall, winter, spring and summer are kind of biased towards the Northern Hemisphere. So sorry, people in Australia. I'm thinking about you now. In addition to the atmosphere circulating, the oceans will also circulate, and this will affect climate patterns, especially those of coastal regions. Now the oceans circulate all over the planet, and we'll talk about that sort of big picture just a second. But before that, I want to talk a little bit about how coastal regions are affected toe. Understand that you need to understand this property of water that we know a specific heat, which is basically the ability of a substance to absorb energy without changing its own temperature. So what does that mean? If you have a high specific heat, you can absorb a lot of energy, and your temperature will only go up a little bit. If you have a low specific heat, your temperature will go up a lot when you absorb just a little bit of energy. Uh, this is a bit of an oversimplification, but for our purposes, that's all you need to understand. So water has a high specific heat, it can absorb large amounts of energy, and it can also store those large amounts of energy. So around coastal regions, oceans, air actually going to be able to warm and cooler coastal areas, depending on the relative temperatures of the air in the water. So I'm gonna give you an example of this, and we're going to get into some details. You don't really need to understand all the details here. I just want to explain how this is happening so you can see how these natural forces work together to produce well, frankly, phenomena that were pretty familiar with that We experience on a regular basis. So So what happens during the day in a coastal area? Well, during the day there's the sun out, and what's gonna happen is the ocean or the water, I should say, is gonna absorb mawr heat, then the land, and that's being represented by these red arrows. So that does not mean the air over the ocean or the air over the land. We're talking about the actual ocean and the actual earth absorbing heat from the sunlight now, because the ocean is absorbing so far, me actually say this another way because the land isn't absorbing as much heat as the ocean. It means the air above the land is actually going to be warmer in the air above the ocean. And that is again because the land is not absorbing as much. Energy is the ocean, the oceans absorbing lots of energy, meaning the air above it is not absorbing or not getting all of that energy, so to speak. So what does this do? Well, if we have hot air, so let's just say hot air, it's gonna rise up when hot air rises, it's gonna leave behind a low pressure pocket. So let's just say low P. It's the hot air rises, and that leaves us with low pressure now because the air is cooler over the ocean and therefore denser. We're gonna have higher pressure over here. Lower pressure over the land so the air is going to move off the ocean up into the land, also known as a sea breeze. Now, at night, we're basically going to have the opposite scenario. Play out the ocean absorbed Mawr energy during the day. So at night, when things air cooled off, it's going to release more energy. Since it's releasing more energy, that means that the air above the ocean is gonna be hotter. So let's say do the same thing. Hot air. It's gonna rise now. The land didn't absorb as much energy during the day, meaning it's gonna release less heat at night. So it's not going to be the air above the land is not gonna be a swarm. It's gonna be cooler, and it's going to be denser. So we're gonna have higher pressure on land because the hot air over the ocean is gonna rise. We're gonna have lower pressure over the ocean, which means we're gonna have a breeze moving from the land out to sea. Now you really don't need to worry about memorizing all the intricacies of these processes. I'm just explaining all the steps so you can see how you know things as simple as energy will cause all of these, you know, patterns in climate and weather that we experience on a daily basis or some of us do. I don't know if you live by the ocean or not. I shouldn't say that I live by the ocean, so I experienced these regularly. Now let's talk about those big picture ocean currents right here. We're looking at really just like a small microcosm of what's going on. But as you can see in this image, I mean, the ocean currents are moving all over the planet, and they carry warm and cool water to various regions. Now notice how, for example, uh, here in the Pacific, we have a warm current that moves up along the coast of Asia here, and it's actually gonna come across the Pacific and move down the coast of California. That's why the Pacific Ocean in California, despite you know, for example, Southern California's warm temperatures always cold. It's always cold, even in the summer. It's always cold now. I grew up on the East Coast, and we have that nice warm water that comes up the coast of the eastern coast of the United States. But notice how across the Atlantic they actually have a cold current moving down the coast of Africa there, and you can see this pattern repeated on other, uh, other currents across the globe. But the point is, you know, thes air, not static systems. They're dynamic there flowing. There's energy moving through them, and that is affecting climate. So with that, let's go ahead and flip the page.