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Thread: Why are the poles so cold?

  1. #1 Why are the poles so cold? 
    Forum Cosmic Wizard icewendigo's Avatar
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    Why is it so cold in northern regions as you get away from the equator on earth?

    I usually thought they had less sun, but in the summer the days are very long (there sunlight till midnight yet its still cold), does it have to do with the angle at which the sunlight's coming in (like a stone skipping on water?) or something?


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  3. #2  
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    Light hits the poles at a very low angle meaning that it is effectively spread over a much wider area than at the equator. The same amount of energy has to heat much more land at the poles than at the equator.
    There is also a greater thickness of atmosphere for it to travel through so more energy can be reflected.
    This is amplified by the fact that polar ice is so reflective- much of the energy that does reach the surface is reflected back.


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  4. #3  
    Forum Cosmic Wizard icewendigo's Avatar
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    thanks :-D
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  5. #4 Re: Why are the poles so cold? 
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    Quote Originally Posted by icewendigo
    Why is it so cold in northern regions as you get away from the equator on earth?

    I usually thought they had less sun, but in the summer the days are very long (there sunlight till midnight yet its still cold), does it have to do with the angle at which the sunlight's coming in (like a stone skipping on water?) or something?
    The question is 'mostly' correct. The North Pole is not as cold as the continental land masses (northern Canada, Siberia). Oceans (the Arctic where the North pole is) act as a moderating influence. It's still COLD at the North Pole but not the coldest place in the north. Also the North Pole is at sea level and cold increases with altitude. there are no weather stations but the coldest spot in the north, in theory, would be in the continental land mass at the peak of a mountain range with modest air circulation, low humidity and a bit away from the Arctic ocean. Think of winter in Chicago vs London...London is further north in latitude but has much milder winters due to currents, humidity, air flow, altitude, etc.

    The South Pole is part of the continental land mass and is colder than most of Antarctica except for the moutain ranges.
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