How Does Latitude Influence Climate?

Latitude refers to the distance a given point on Earth is located between the equator and one of the poles. Positions of latitude determine the strength and directness of the sun's rays. Lower latitudes are closer to the equator and thus receive a higher concentration of sunlight.

The sun is the source of heat and light for the Earth. When sunlight strikes the Earth's atmosphere and ground, it heats both the ground and the air. At the equator and tropical zones, this sunlight is more concentrated, thus producing more heat and light. Therefore, the climate is warmer. Conversely, temperate and polar areas receive more scattered sunlight, leading to cooler climates.

Temperature, in turn, affects the rate of evaporation and precipitation. Warmer climates tend to be more humid because increased temperatures lead to more water vapor in the air. Warmer air can hold more moisture before becoming saturated and releasing the water as precipitation.

The interaction between warm and cold air creates different pressure areas, which lead to the development of storms. Tropical areas and oceans are prone to developing hurricanes especially along the path of jet streams. This is because currents carrying warm or cold air tend to interact more frequently.