View Full Version : temperature question

2003-Mar-16, 01:11 AM
hello. I have a question regarding the summer solistice. I realize what this is and everything. What I am not sure about is why is this not normally the hottest time of the year. I live in Iowa and it is always much hotter in August than on June 21st. It seems that since the sun is lower in the sky and all that in August that the temperatures would be a little cooler than at the Summer Sol. Inversely, December 21st is never the coldest time of the year. End of January and most of February is usually the most frigid. What gives?

2003-Mar-16, 01:17 AM
My guess is: Time.

It takes time for the Earth to heat up or cool down after each solstice. Just like noon isn't the hottest time of the day because the Earth and atmosphere have to gradually heat up after the sun has reached it's zenith.

Although, I could be wrong, I'm not a planetary scientist or anything...just a curious photographer /phpBB/images/smiles/icon_wink.gif

Kaptain K
2003-Mar-16, 01:39 AM
It's called thermal inertia.

2003-Mar-16, 01:52 AM
Excellent question!

An object will continue to increase in temperature as long as it is absorbing more energy than it is radiating. The Sun reaches its greatest noon altitude at the summer solstice in the northern hemisphere (unless you're in the tropics).

The reason the warmest temperatures follow the summer solstice is that during the month of July (at least) the northern latitudes are still absorbing more energy than they are radiating away. So the the Northern Hemisphere temperatures continue to warm after the Solstice.

2003-Mar-16, 07:27 PM
thanks for the answers!