The tropics account for 36% of the Earth’s landmass and serve as a home to about a third of the world’s people. They are basically regions of the Earth that lie roughly in the middle of the globe. The tropics consist of the Equator and parts of North America, South America, Africa, Asia, and Australia.
What imaginary lines mark the southern and northern boundaries of the tropics?
The English word “tropic” derives from the Greek word “tropikos,” which means “belonging to a turn of the sun at the solstice.”
The southern limit of the tropics is marked by the line known as the Tropic of Capricorn, whose latitude is 23° 27′ S. Because the sun was in the constellation Capricorn at the time of its naming, which occurred at the December solstice, it was given that name.
On the other hand, the line called the Tropic of Cancer marks the northern boundary of the tropics, and its latitude (distance from the Equator) is 23° 27′ N. Likewise, the name was from the idea that the sun was positioned in the Cancer constellation during the June solstice.
The naming happened around 2000 years ago, and the sun is no longer in those constellations at that time of year.
Why are the tropics the most diverse areas?
The tropics are very diverse regions of the world because they have the most varied environments. They are hot and humid, so they contain a wide variety of plants and animals. The climate is also quite stable, so there are lots of different types of trees, plants, and flowers.
Tropical latitudes produce far more solar energy than temperate zones, which results in high productivity and high biodiversity. Tropical regions tend to have fewer seasonal changes than temperate ones and their climates are more or less stable. This encourages specialization within the niche and hence a large number of animals.
Why do hurricanes initially form only in the tropics?
Tropical cyclones are similar to engines that need warm, moist air as their fuel. So the first ingredient required for a tropical cyclone to form is warm ocean water. That is why tropical storms only form in tropical regions where the oceans are at least 80 degrees Fahrenheit for at least the top fifty meters below the surface.
A tropical cyclone also requires wind to be formed. When hurricanes form in the Atlantic Ocean, they’re usually caused by winds blowing westward across the ocean from Africa. Water evaporates from the surface of the ocean, rising into the air. As it rises, the water vapor cools and condenses back into large water droplets, forming larger cumulonimbus cloud formations. These clouds are just a start.
Rainfall varies greatly from one region of the tropics to another. For example, some parts of the Amazon Basin in South America receive almost 3 meters (9 feet) of rain per year. Dry climates are found in other parts of the tropics. The Sahara Desert in northern Africa only receives between 2-10 centimeters (793.9 inches) of rain per year.
Rainfall directly affects which plants and animals thrive in a particular tropical region. The baobab tree thrives in arid tropical climates, such as Africa. It stores water in its huge trunk. On the other side is the rainy island of Sri Lanka located in the Indian Ocean. Sri Lanka gets enough precipitation to support 250 species of frogs.
The tropics receive more direct solar energy, which results in more evaporation than in higher latitudes. The warm, moist atmosphere rises, forms clouds and thunderstorms and then falls back to earth as rain. More evaporation means more precipitation.
What temperature range characterizes the wet tropics?
The average temperature in the tropics is about 80 degrees (27 Celsius). The temperature feels warmer because the humidity is usually quite high. Humidity is the amount of water in the air. During the day, temperatures rarely exceed 93 degrees, and at night, temperatures don’t fall below 68 degrees.
Which winds are found primarily in the tropics?
The strong prevailing winds that blow from the east through tropical areas are known as trade winds. They are generally predictable. They have been instrumental to the history of exploration, communications, and trade. Early ships relied on wind to establish quick, reliable routes across the vast Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. Today, shipping depends on trade winds and ocean currents they drive.
Trade winds that are formed over land (called continental trade winds) are warmer and drier than those that are formed over the ocean (maritime trade winds). The relationship between continental and maritime trade winds can be violent when they collide.
Strong trade winds mean a lack of precipitation, while weak trade winds usually carry rainfall far inland. The most well-known rain pattern in the world, the Southeast Asian monsoon, is a seasonal, moisture-laden trade wind.
What does watching the tropics mean?
A Tropical Storm Watch means that a tropical cyclone with winds of 34 to 63 knots (39 – 73 miles per hour) or higher is expected to form within 48 hours. These winds may be associated with storms, coastal flooding, and river flooding. The watch does not necessarily indicate that tropical storm conditions will be occurring.
Why are the tropics warm all year long?
The tropics are hot all year round, averaging between 25 and 28 degrees Celsius (77 and 82 degrees Fahrenheit). Because the tropics receive more sunlight than temperate regions, they tend to be warmer. Because of all that sunlight, tropical regions don’t experience the kinds of seasons the rest of the world does. The tropical seasons are divided into just two: the rainy season and the dry season.
Why is the water clearer in the tropics?
The water is clear because there is no plankton and suspended particles in it. Plankton is at the base of the food chain in all oceans. Because there is little plankton near the equator, tropical ocean water is almost sterile compared to the fertile waters of the northern oceans.
The Caribbean Sea is among the tropical ocean regions that contain warm, clear water.
What is the largest lake in the tropics?
Lake Victoria passes through Kenya, Tanzania, and Uganda. It is the second-biggest freshwater lake in the world and the largest tropical lake. Lake Victoria reaches the Equator on its northern side. Its total area is 68,800 sq. km with a maximum depth of 80 m, which is relatively shallow. Its basin is home to about 30 million people.