MadSci Network: Earth Sciences

Re: how does the heat from the equator move toward the poles?

Date: Sun Feb 21 10:15:41 2010
Posted By: Xiaodong Zhang, Faculty, Earth System Science and Policy, University of North Dakota
Area of science: Earth Sciences
ID: 1266594958.Es

Basically there are two ways for heat to transfer from the equator to polar regions, and both involve water.

1. Waters evaporate from the equator and are carried by wind to higher latitudes. By condensing back to liquid water, such as by becoming clouds or precipitation, water vapor releases heat back to the atmosphere, which in turn warms up the land.

2. Warm currents flow toward higher latitudes, releasing heat before returning back to the equator or sinking to deeper ocean depths.

Why waters are involved is because water has 1) high specific heat (which means water is efficient for storage of heat) and 2) high latent heat (this is why you feel cold coming out of a swimming pool; water on your body evaporates carrying away heat. Conversely, if water condenses from vapor to liquid, or freezes from liquid to ice, heat is released).

Hope this answers your question.

Current Queue | Current Queue for Earth Sciences | Earth Sciences archives

Try the links in the MadSci Library for more information on Earth Sciences.

MadSci Home | Information | Search | Random Knowledge Generator | MadSci Archives | Mad Library | MAD Labs | MAD FAQs | Ask a ? | Join Us! | Help Support MadSci

MadSci Network,
© 1995-2006. All rights reserved.