Another Fallacy to Avoid

Another Fallacy to Avoid - the N Hemisphere seasons because...

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Another Fallacy to Avoid Incidentally, one should be precise in terminology. A common student answer for the cause of the seasons is that "the Earth tips toward the Sun in the Summer, . . .". This conveys the impression that the Earth moves around its orbit and at certain times of the year the rotation axis suddenly tips one way or another and thus we have seasons. As the preceding diagram makes clear, the rotation axis of the Earth remains pointed in the same direction (except for small effects from precession ) as it moves around its orbit. It is the relative location of the Sun with respect to this constant tilt angle that causes the seasons, not some elaborate square dance of the Earth bowing to its partner as it moves around its orbit! Southern Hemisphere Seasons As is clear from the preceding diagram, the seasons in the Southern Hemisphere are determined from the same reasoning, except that they are out of phase with
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Unformatted text preview: the N. Hemisphere seasons because when the N. Hemisphere is oriented toward the Sun the S. Hemisphere is oriented away, and vice versa: The Seasons in the Southern Hemisphere The Lag of the Seasons The preceding reasoning for the causes of the seasons is idealized. In reality, we know that the seasons "lag": for example, the hottest temperatures in the Summer usually occur a month or so after the time of maximum insolation (the time when maximum solar energy is deposited during a day at a point on the surface of the Earth). This is because the Earth and its atmosphere store heat (the oceans are particularly effective heat sinks). Thus, a detailed description of the seasons is quite complicated since it must take into account complex local variations in the storage of solar energy. However, the basic reason for the seasons is simple, as described above....
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