What causes the three main climate zones on earth?


Quick Answer

Differences in the amount of sunlight hitting the earth cause the three main climate zones. However, weather varies within these zones. An area in the temperate zone, for example, can be warmer than an area in the tropic zone.

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Full Answer

The three main climate zones are delineated by their position relative to the equator. As a result, they do not precisely describe weather patterns. Proximity to the equator is just one factor among many that influence an area's temperature and weather patterns. Areas far from oceans, large lakes and mountains, for example, tend to experience more extreme weather than areas near other geographical features.

Despite the shortcomings of using three climate zones, some generalizations are typically true. People in arctic zones are at risk of injury and death if they are not prepared, and people in the tropical zone need to ensure that they stay hydrated.

In recent years, many experts have suggested creating a fourth zone, the subtropical zone. As anyone who's spent time in Florida knows, the weather is not considered temperate, but its position means it is classified as a temperate area instead of a tropic area. By describing Florida as a subtropical region, visitors to the state have a better idea about what to expect.

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