MadSci Network: Astronomy

Re: What would happen if the Earth's Axis was directly perpendicular?

Date: Tue Jul 27 17:40:00 1999
Posted By: Adams Douglas, Senior Developer
Area of science: Astronomy
ID: 932455197.As

Jessica, I assume you mean what would happen if Earth's axis was 
perpendicular to the ecliptic--the plane of the Earth's orbit. 

First of all, there would be no real seasons as we know them. Seasonal 
variation in temperature is caused by the varying Sun angle as the tilted 
axis of the Earth orbits the Sun. If there was no axial tilt, the sun 
angle at a given time of day would remain the same all year. Sunrise and 
sunset would also happen at the same time all year (with minor variations 
due to the ellipticity of Earth's orbit).

It's interesting also to contemplate what would be different about our 
weather. Since the higher latitudes would get the same amount of sun all 
year, they would probably tend to stabilize at temperatures similar to fall 
and spring in a given region. But without the seasonal changes, weather 
cycles might be very different from the way we know them. It's a difficult 
thing to analyze completely.

Keep asking great questions like this one and you'll never stop learning 
new things.

-Adams Douglas
 Senior Developer
 Infonex, Inc.

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