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Why is it colder in the northern cities, such as: New York than in the southern cities, such as: Houston, TX during the winter months?
Question Date: 2017-12-28
Answer 1:

As the earth revolves about the sun in the course of a year, the amount of sunlight , that is the INTENSITY of sunlight or the energy falling on a given area (say the energy per second per square meter) varies. This variation is due to the fact that the SPIN axis of the earth is inclined about 67 degrees with respect to the plane defined by the revolution of Earth around the sun. This plane is called the ECLIPTIC, and the tilt of Earth's spin axis with respect to the ecliptic means that the altitude of the sun at noon in the sky varies from high angles in the northern hemisphere summer to low angles in north hemisphere winter. The higher the altitude, the higher the intensity per unit area (or the sun's rays) are more DIRECT.

So New York City, because it is further north than Houston, will get less intense sunlight on any given day at noon than Houston, simply because Houston is closer to the equator.


Answer 2:

There are actually a variety of reasons Earth has different temperatures across its surface, but I think your question primarily comes down to the effect of latitude, or the measurement of a location on Earth from the equator .

You can think of the equator as being the 0 degree latitude mark circling around Earth , then each line of latitude is a circle around Earth, or a line running east to west on a map, that tell you where you are in the north or south direction from the equator. The furthest points from the equator would be the poles . So the equator is 0 degrees latitude, the North Pole is at 90 degrees North latitude, and the South Pole is at 90 degrees South latitude.

The sun shines directly at the equator, heating the atmosphere there and causing temperatures at the equator to be very warm. The further a location is from the equator, the less sunlight that location receives to heat the atmosphere and thus, the temperature is colder.

The reason that higher latitudes receive less sunlight is due to the shape of Earth. Any view of Earth reveals it as a circle, and only the front face receives direct sunlight. The equator is the front face of Earth. Away from the equator, the rays of sunlight are spread out more and more to reach the faces further away. The more direct the sunlight, the more intense the heat from the sun. The less direct the sunlight, the less intense the heat from the sun. This disparity of sunlight occurs whether in summer or winter.

So, temperature in Texas will be warmer than temperatures in New York because they are at different latitudes. Houston, Texas, is at latitude 29.7604 degree North and New York, is at latitude 40.7128 degrees North. Each degree of latitude is approximately 69 miles apart , so New York City is about 756 miles further north than Houston, and thus much colder.


Answer 3:

The northern cities in the US experience winter differently than southern cities because of the way that the earth's axis is tilted (at 23.5 degrees).

see picture

As you can see from the above picture, during our summer, the northern hemisphere is tilted towards the sun more than the southern hemisphere. During our winter, the southern hemisphere is tilted towards the sun, and they have their summer. I hope this has answered your question. Have a great day!


Answer 4:

Northern cities are colder than southern cities in the winter because in the winter, the norther part of the northern hemisphere of the earth is farther away from the sun and the southern cities of the norther hemisphere. The reason for this difference in distance is that the earth is tilted.

The line from the Earth's North Pole to its South Pole, also called the axis, is tilted (like the Leaning Tower of Pisa, not straight up-and-down) relative to its orbit around the sun. In the winter, Earth tilts away from the sun and makes the northern part of the northern hemisphere farther away than the southern part of the northern hemisphere. This makes northern cities in the US colder than in the southern cities.


Answer 5:

Houston is closer to the equator than New York, so gets more sunlight because the equator of the earth is pointed more toward the sun than the poles are.

This is generally true of planets: poles are cold and often have ice caps because they are pointed away from the sun while the equator is warmer because it is pointed toward the sun. Only oddball planets like Uranus have poles pointed at the sun and get the opposite effect. You can see this on Earth because Antarctica is ice-covered and is over a pole, but the steaming tropical jungles of the Amazon, Congo, and Indonesia are all along the equator.

Mars is colder than Earth generally speaking, but the Martian ice caps are on the poles. The equator on Mars is actually above freezing during the daytime, unlike the rest of the planet.

Returning to cities, north of the equator (all of the United States is north of the equator), what you said is true: it's colder the farther north you go. Southern hemisphere cities aren't like this. Sydney, Australia is south of Jakarta, Indonesia, but Sydney is colder. Both cities are south of the equator. Christchurch, New Zealand is farther south yet, and is colder yet.


Answer 6:

The earth is permanently tilted relative to the sun by about 23.5 degrees. In the winter the northern hemisphere tilts away from the sun, and the southern hemisphere tilts towards the sun. Right at the equator, the earth receives the same amount of direct sunlight all year. As you move north from the equator, the tilted axis means that the sun’s light is hitting the earth at an angle, and this effect becomes more extreme the farther north you go. Indirect sunlight is reflected more by the earth’s atmosphere meaning that as you move towards the poles, less light is absorbed as heat by the earth and the climate generally cools.

Houston is 29.8 degrees North latitude, while New York City is 40.7 degrees North latitude, and so Houston receives more direct sunlight than New York City in the winter. However, the climate of a particular place is also affected by other factors than just latitude such as air currents and ocean currents. For example, in winter cold air currents from northern Canada can move down towards New York City, causing cold winter temperature.

On the other hand, Houston is warmed by the Gulf of Mexico and generally has mild winters. As an interesting example, consider that Rome, Italy is 42 degrees North latitude (about the same latitude as NYC) but stays much warmer even in winter due to air currents coming from North Africa and the Mediterranean.


Answer 7:

The reason it is usually colder in northern cities than southern cities is because the earth is round and it is tilted. The land in Houston gets more sunlight than the land in New York. Another way to think of this is that the same amount of sunlight in Houston is concentrated over a smaller area than in New York, because Houston faces the sun more directly during the day time. Hope this helped! Please look at this picture .


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