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Name:  Joe
Status:  student
Age:  18
Location: N/A
Country: N/A
Date: 2000-2001


Question:
Because of the nature of the earth's elliptical orbit, the planet recieves its largest share of solar heating during the southern hemisphere summer and its smallest share of solar heating during the sothern hemisphere winter. And yet the northern, hemisphere, on average experiences greater extremes in temperature than the southern hemisphere. Why? Does it have to do with the atomosphere or maybe the oceans circulation?


Replies:
Joe,

On reason for the greater variation (extremes in the maximum temperature values in the northern hemisphere perhaps; I don't know about the minimums - I think that Antarctica has the lowest temperatures) is the larger amount of land area in the northern hemisphere as opposed to the larger amount of ocean in the southern hemisphere. Oceans are a huge stabilizing force for energy distribution and therefore are very effective in limiting temperature variations in the southern hemisphere.

David Cook
meteorologist
Argonne National Laboratory


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