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Thursday, May 23, 2013

Reasons for the seasons - Rebecca Kaplan

Elliptical Earth orbit 

Compared to axial tilt, other factors contribute little to seasonal temperature changes. The seasons are not the result of the variation in Earth’s distance to the sun because of its elliptical orbit. Orbital eccentricity can influence temperatures, but on Earth, this effect is small and is more than counteracted by other factors; research shows that the Earth as a whole is actually slightly warmer when farther from the sun. This is because the northern hemisphere has more land than the southern, and land warms more readily than sea.

Seasonal weather differences between hemispheres are further caused by the elliptical orbit of Earth. Earth reaches perihelion (the point in its orbit closest to the Sun) in January, and it reaches aphelion (farthest point from the Sun) in July. The effect this has on Earth's seasons is minor (there is only about a 7% increase/decrease in sunlight received). Any noticeably intensification of the southern hemisphere's winters and summers due to Earth's elliptical orbit is mitigated by the abundance of water in the southern hemisphere.

font: wikipedia 

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