How Does Latitude Affect Climate?

How Does Latitude Affect Climate

If you believe that the Earth is flat, you can stop reading here. If you do not believe in that nonsense, then continue on. Explaining global climate variations and seasons is hard for someone who follows the Earth is flat theory. Science has so far explained and proven many times that the Earth is a sphere.


Climate variations are a result of two phenomena. The first is the orbit of the Earth around the Sun, and the tilt of the Earth’s axis relative to the orbit.

The tilt is the main reason how altitudes affect the climate. Different latitudes experience different weather patterns or climates. Other planets in our solar system have similar tilts. For example, Saturn. However, there are no latitude-dependent climate variations because Saturn is not close to the sun.

What are Latitude and Longitude?

You can define any point on the surface of the Earth with a pair of angular coordinates. Those are the Latitude and Longitude.


Longitude is a line stretching from pole to pole with a given angular displacement from the Prime Meridian. The Prime Meridian runs through Greenwich, England.

Latitude is the angular distance from the equator and is designated North or South depending on the hemisphere. The equator is zero degrees latitude. The North and South Pole are at 90 degrees respectively. Lines of constant latitudes run east-west as circles parallel to the equator. We call these parallels.

Latitude and Temperature

As the latitude increases, the sun shines more obliquely. This provides less warming energy. The equator always faces the sun directly. So, the climate is warm year-round. The average day and night temperature at the equator are between 12.5 and 14.3 degrees Celsius (or 54.5 and 57.7 in Fahrenheit). At the poles, summer and winter temperatures show a wider variation.

For example, the average temperature in the Arctic can go from zero C in summer to -40 Celsius in winter. On the Antarctic, the temperature varies between -28 in summer and -60 in winter.


There are two reasons why the Antarctic is colder. For one, it is a landmass. And it has a higher elevation than the Arctic.

Between the two poles, temperatures vary depending on how close or far they are from the equator. One of the simplest ways to explain the Earth is a sphere theory is the change of weather. If the Earth was flat, we would have one season. There is no way to explain seasons, eclipses, and similar phenomena with flat Earth theory.

How the Tilt Affects the Climate?

The Earth’s tilt affects the angle of incident sunlight on a particular location. But that is not the only effect. If that was the only effect of the tilt, there would higher temperatures at each pole in summer. We have to take into account prevailing winds and atmospheric circles. Take into account Hadley Cells, Ferrell cells, and Polar cells. They play a crucial role in determining the climate of a place.

Latitude is not the only factor that affects the climate. Other factors include elevation and closeness to the sea. With that in mind, with different latitudes, we can classify three climatic zones.

Tropic Zones

These zones extend from the equator north to the Tropic of Cancer at 23.6 degrees north to the Tropic of Capricorn at 23.5 degrees south. The temperature is generally warm. In these zones, you can find lush tropical vegetation.

These zones receive the most sunlight. The types of ecosystems you can find here include rainforests, savanna, and deserts. Rainforest receive a lot of rain. But the temperature is warm all year long. Savannas are ecosystem with a wet and dry season. Deserts do not receive a lot of rainfall, and they are just warm.

Temperate Zones

This is the area between warm tropics and chilly poles. The area extends from the Tropics of Cancer and Capricorn to the Arctic and Antarctic Circles. They are located at 66.5 degrees north and south latitude respectively.

The regions experience moderate temperatures and large temperature variations. The summer is hot in these areas, while the winter is cool. Affected by both warm tropical air and cold polar air, the area has a unique ecosystem. For example, you can find chaparral, an area with wet winters and dry summers. Grassland is the most common ecosystem in the temperate zone. Found on the dry interior of continents. And of course, the temperate forest, where the moist climate allows for leafy trees to thrive.

Polar zones

This is the area with high latitude. It receives the least sunlight, resulting in cold climates. The Polar zone extends from the Arctic and Antarctic circles to the poles. The vegetation is sparse in the region.

Some of the popular ecosystems include the taiga and the tundra. Taiga is a forest that survives despite long and cold winters.

Others Factors that Impact the Climate

Latitude is not the only factor that impacts the temperature. The reality is, the temperature is not completely in correlation with altitude. There are exceptions. For example, the western portion of South America has a low temperature. That is because of the Andes Mountains. Another example is the Rocky Mountains in the USA. They have lower temperatures due to high altitude.

In Western Europe, the Gulf Stream contributes to warmer weather. The varying influence of other factors leads to different parts experiencing different climates.

Here are some other factors that affect climate and temperature:

  • Distance from the sea
  • Direction of prevailing winds
  • Ocean currents
  • Distance from the Equator
  • Shape of the Land, commonly known as relief or topography
  • The El Nino phenomenon

Human Influence

The harsh reality is that human activity affects the climate as well. The impact is not the same everywhere. Changes happen faster near the poles than in other places. Other factors affect the climate naturally.

The influence of humans on nature is not natural. Early in human history, the effect was small. But as the population increased, we made a bigger impact. We cut trees to make room for buildings.

The biggest human effect on the climate was the Industrial Revolution. The invention of the motor engine and increased burning of fossil fuels increased the number of carbon dioxide. Nowadays, we are more aware, and we are looking for alternative fuel.




Steven is a young student from San Francisco who is obsessed with computers.