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Name: Greg W.
Status: student
Age: 20s
Location: N/A
Country: N/A
Date: 12/10/2002

Why does the northern hemisphere, on average, experience greater extremes in temperature than the southern hemisphere?


A good place to see temperature extremes is the National Climatic Data Center (NCDC) site,

On this site, you can see that Antarctica (in the southern hemisphere) is, by far, colder than any place in the northern hemisphere, while the highest temperatures have been recorded in the northern hemisphere.

In general, the coldest temperatures are recorded near the poles and/or at high elevations, whereas the highest temperatures are recorded in deserts and/or at elevations near or below sea level.

On average, the northern hemisphere may seem to experience more frequent extremes simply because there are many more reporting stations than there are in the southern hemisphere. However, that bias should be ignored when considering where the most extreme conditions actually occur.

David R. Cook
Atmospheric Research Section
Environmental Research Division
Argonne National Laboratory

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