Earth’s rotation, orbit and the seasons Only 50% of the Earth’s surface can be “lit” by the sun Because the Earth’s axis is tilted the area covered by this 50% varies throughout the year
Most important variables Earth’s orbit is 365.25 days long Earth’s axis of rotation tilts 23.5° from the perpendicular These two variables account for the seasonal changes in weather patterns that we observe in a given year These two variables account for the seasonal changes in weather patterns that we observe in a given year
We have four seasons: why? The Earth’s axis of rotation is tilted at 23.5° from the perpendicular
Latitude Affects the amount of insolation received at the Earth’s surface The subsolar point (at right angles to the plane of the ecliptic) receives most insolation Insolation decreases north and south of this point Insolation decreases north and south of this point The subsolar point migrates from 23.5°N in the summer to 23.5°S in the winter
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