Q:

Why is it so hot near the equator?

A:

Yung Chung-hoi of the Hong Kong Observatory explains that the sun is overhead at the equator and at a slant angle at the poles, which is why it is very hot near the equator. The other factors that influence the amount of sunshine received at different places on Earth are absorption and scattering of sunshine when passing through the atmosphere, and reflection by the surface of the Earth.

According to the Atmospheric Radiation Measurement Climate Research Facility, the equator receives more sunshine than the poles. The reason for this is the geometry of the Earth’s curvature. The equator points directly at the sun, and sunshine that falls on the equator has a greater effect than the glancing rays spread over a bigger region of the curving surface near the poles. Additionally, thick snow and ice at the poles reflect some of the sun’s energy back to space. The Earth absorbs a lot more sunshine at the equator, resulting in hotter land at the equator than the poles. The atmosphere and oceans help reduce excess heat in the equator and provide more heat to the poles, making both areas inhabitable to people.

National Geographic Education states that for most of the year, regions near the equator typically experience a hot climate with little seasonal variation. This results in two recognizable seasons: the wet and dry seasons.


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