If the solstice occurs at that moment when the earth is at its maximum tilt, then why does the weather extreme begin that day, and last for so long afterwards?

This question has vexed me since I was a child. In other words, "winter" is said to BEGIN at the winter solstice. But if that is the day when the sun's center is at its highest northward point (for those of us north of the tropics) then that means it begins easing its way back toward the equator from that point. So why does the winter solstice occur at the BEGINNING of winter, as opposed to the MIDDLE of winter?
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quote:
If the solstice occurs at that moment when the earth is at its maximum tilt, then why does the weather extreme begin that day, and last for so long afterwards


Well, for a long time the sun has been on a tilt of 22 degrees. The further the earth gets away from the sun the more extreme the weather, in this case the winter, depending on your geo-position. As for why it last so long, well, assuming you're talking about climate, that to depenends on your global position.

Your latitude.

I hope that helped some.
I always thought that the winter solstice was when the sun hit the tropic of Capricorn and was its furthest south. then it is midway on its nothward journey come the spring equinox, it's furthest north for the beginning of summer.

Oddly the sun is closer in the winter 91mm miles and 93 million in the summer, but if you think about it, it makes perfect sense (use a flashlight).
I'm not sure I'm explaining the question
adequately.

The northern hemisphere's winter solstice, for example, is the point where the sun's center is over the tropic of capricorn. That is the farthest south that the center ever gets; therefore it's the farthest from the northern latitudes that it will get.

I've never understood, then, why that's not the period of the coldest weather. Two months later, on February 21, the sun is in the same position relative to the equator that it was on October 21. Yet, late February is generally much colder than late October. I have never been able to figure out why that makes sense.
Because the warming and cooling of regions is pretty dependant on the temperature of water, which rises an lowers much slower than the sun's position, but does depend on the sun's position.

For instance, in Chicago, in the spring and early summer, you will hear "Cooler by the lake" because the lake temperature is so low it drags down the temp of the closer areas. IN the winter autumn and early winter, it will actually be warmer by the lake because the lake has been warmed and cools much slower than the air.

So take that same idea on much larger bodies of water and consider how they will effect the weather patterns that come from them.

It is why hurricanes come at the end of summer though fall and not in the spring. I hope that helps
quote:
If the solstice occurs at that moment when the earth is at its maximum tilt, then why does the weather extreme begin that day, and last for so long afterwards?

This question has vexed me since I was a child. In other words, "winter" is said to BEGIN at the winter solstice. But if that is the day when the sun's center is at its highest northward point


1. The Earth's tilt remains constant. The North polar axis is constantly pointed at pretty much the same point in the sky. But as the Earth orbits the Sun the direction of tilt relative to the Sun changes. The Sun is at the lowest point to the south on solstice.

2. The Northern hemisphere builds up and stores heat during the summer. That heat cannot disappear instantaneously. It is in the ground the water and the atmosphere. It is all of the shifting around of heat that creates the wind and ocean currents. So the coldest temperatures aren't until after solstice. It is a kind of thermal inertia.

quote:
The further the earth gets away from the sun the more extreme the weather, in this case the winter, depending on your geo-position. As for why it last so long,


The Earth's orbit is slightly elliptical and I have read that the Earth is closer to the Sun when it is summer in the southern hemisphere and consequently their summers are warmer than ours. I haven't been there to test it though.

um

PS - The Earth doesn't exactly point at the same place in the sky. The planet precesses slowly and a complete cycle takes 26,000 years. This is related to the Age of Aquarius business.
Thanks Um and Wiz. That breaks it down perfectly. Especially this:

quote:
2. The Northern hemisphere builds up and stores heat during the summer. That heat cannot disappear instantaneously. It is in the ground the water and the atmosphere. It is all of the shifting around of heat that creates the wind and ocean currents. So the coldest temperatures aren't until after solstice. It is a kind of thermal inertia.
quote:
This question has vexed me since I was a child.


That is one of the annoying things about being a kid. Everything is so fascinating and often you don't even know how to ask the question.

The other annoying thing is adults that give wrong answers and you don't find out for months or more that you don't know what you think you know.

That is why I keep talking about sci-fi books. I kept running into words and ideas there that told me what to research in the dictionary and encyclopedia. The nuns were useless by comparison. lol

When did you hear about sidereal time?

um
quote:
If the solstice occurs at that moment when the earth is at its maximum tilt, then why does the weather extreme begin that day, and last for so long afterwards?

This question has vexed me since I was a child.


Great! I've only begun to think about science, like, three days ago. Razz

So, of course I don't know the answer. But, I do know that we have leap years to keep the seasons in check. If we didn't have leap years the winter solstice would start a day later than usual. After, say, 70 years it would start around two weeks later. But, after 700 years, winter would be starting in late June! Eek

So we want to keep the calendar synchronized with the earth's orbit around the sun.

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