The globe is divided into three temperature zones.
1. Tropical Zone : It extends between Tropic of Cancer and Capricorn. High temperature prevails throughout the year. In the Torrid Zone, also known as the Tropics, the Sun is directly overhead at least once during the year. In the Northern Hemisphere, the overhead Sun moves north from the Equator until it reaches 23.5 degrees North ( Tropic of Cancer ) at the June solstice, after which it moves back south to the Equator. In the Southern Hemisphere, the overhead Sun moves south from the Equator until reaches 23.5 degrees South ( Tropic of Capricorn ) at the December solstice, after which it moves back north to the Equator.
The Sun crosses the Equator twice a year as it moves from the June solstice to the December solstice and when it moves from the December solstice to the June solstice. The days when the Sun crosses the Equator are known as the Equinoxes. The Torrid Zone forms the hottest region of the world, with two annual seasons: a dry and a wet season. This zone includes most of Africa, southern Asia, Indonesia, New Guinea, northern Australia, southern Mexico, Central America and northern South America.
2. Temperate Zone : It extends between 23 l/2° and 66l/2° latitudes in both the hemispheres.In the two Temperate Zones, consisting of the tepid latitudes, the Sun is never directly overhead, and the climate is mild, generally ranging from warm to cool. The four annual seasons, Spring, Summer, Autumn and Winter, occur in these areas. The North Temperate Zone includes Great Britain, Europe, northern Asia, North America and northern Mexico. The South Temperate Zone includes southern Australia, New Zealand, southern South America and Southern Africa.
3. Frigid Zone : It extends between 66 l/2° latitude and poles in both hemispheres. Low temperature prevails throughout the year. The two Frigid Zones, or polar regions, experience the midnight sun and the polar night for part of the year – at the edge of the zone there is one day at the winter solstice when the Sun does not rise or set for 24 hours, while in the centre of the zone ( the pole ), the day is literally one year long, with six months of daylight and six months of night. The Frigid Zones are the coldest parts of the earth, and are generally covered with ice and snow. The North Frigid Zone ( the Arctic ) includes the northern parts of Canada, Alaska, Greenland, Scandinavia, Russia, and the Arctic Ocean in between them. The South Frigid Zone ( the Antarctic ) is filled by the continent of Antarctica; the next closest significant land to this zone is the southern tip of Chile and Argentina, followed by the South Island of New Zealand and then Tasmania.
As explained in this article, the boundaries of these zones reflect how the Sun is observed, which is in turn determined by the tilt of the Earth’s axis relative to its orbital plane. These boundaries do not reflect a step change in climate. Climate varies gradually according to latitude and is also influenced by other geographical features. For example northern Norway, above the Arctic Circle, is influenced by its proximity to the ocean and has milder winters than large expanses of Siberia and North America below the Arctic Circle. To reflect this gradual change in climate, the parts of the Temperate Zones nearest to the Torrid and Frigid Zones are sometimes referred to as the Subtropics, Subarctic and Subantarctic.
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