Eli5 the sun is always there blasting out heat, why do we have different seasons and why do we have massive heat waves now?

241 views

Eli5 the sun is always there blasting out heat, why do we have different seasons and why do we have massive heat waves now?

In: Earth Science

Not directly connected.

Seasons are caused by the wobble of the planet, in winter the nearest pole is pointing more away from the sun. The light hitting that hemisphere is at more of an angle and transfers less energy, and we get less of it (shorter days)

The heat waves are because we’re retaining more heat due to greenhouse gasses in the atmosphere.

Seasons occur because the Earth is tilted on it’s side; as it orbits around the Sun, different hemispheres are tilted towards or away from the Sun, and thus experience more or less direct sunlight.

The cause of the heat waves is not *explicitly* known, but it’s almost certainly due to global warming and destabilization of the climate of the Northern Hemisphere.

For seasons, we have an elliptical orbit so distance from the sun is not a constant. Additionally, the tilt of the earth will affect seasons as more sunlight will hit a hemisphere when it’s tilt is towards the sun.

Heat waves are caused by periods of high pressure in the atmosphere that stay over an area for a longer period of time. The pressure prevents wind from blowing hard and prevents clouds from forming. That in turn causes the temperature to increase.

Two different questions kinds of here…

The first, why do we have different seasons, well earth is on a tilted axis so different parts of the earth receive different amounts of sunlight depending on where the earth is in its rotation of the sun. Places near the equator may only have 1-2 seasons because they receive a constant amount of sunlight while others may have 4 because the amount of sunlight they get depends on where they are on earth if the earth is at a certain part in its solar revolution.

Why do we have massive heat waves?

This is because of global warming… greenhouse gases trap heat in the atmosphere causing more heat to be retained. They also destroy ozone which prevents harmful frequencies of light from reaching the surface. This has nothing to do with the amount of heat from the sun or sunlight as this will remain pretty much constant in our or kids or their kids life time.

We have different seasons because the earth is tilted.

As the earth moves around the sun, some parts are tilted towards the sun and receive more sunlight, which causes the temperature to rise. This is summer.

The parts which are tilted away receive less sunlight, making it cooler. This is winter.

As the earth continues its orbit, the tilt remains the same but now the regions receiving sunlight change, and that’s why the seasons change.

To answer your questions in order, the seasons are due to the tilt of the Earth’s axis. Instead of rotating straight up and down in relation to its orbit, Earth is tilted at around 23 degrees. This means that as it goes around in its orbit, there the sun hits the surface at different angles depending on the time of year. At the equator, the sun is usually almost directly overhead, which means that it gets the most direct sunlight, and the most thermal energy. Nearer to the poles, during Winter they get sunlight at a steeper angle, which means that it can only ever give part of its energy directly to the surface. The easiest way to think about it is to imagine the sunlight as a stream of small balls. If you are hit straight on by the ball, then it can impart more of its energy into you, and thus it hurts more. If you are hit at an angle, it has a higher chance of not hurting as much, because it only hits at a glancing angle.

Secondly, the reason why there are more heat waves now is because of an increase in greenhouse gasses. Basically, if you think of the atmosphere like a blanket, the greenhouse gasses like carbon dioxide act like a thicker lining that traps in more heat. In the atmosphere, heat is energy and can be funneled into a large variety of processes, including making the temperature hotter, and fueling stronger storms.

Everyone already hit it pretty much so all I’ll say is, the closer you get to the equator, the more the “seasons” typically begin to disappear

everyone’s explained seasons but the reason we had a massive heat dome event was because the jet stream- a powerful current of air that passes over the northern (or southern) part of a hemisphere that keeps cold arctic air behind a “wall”, is beginning to weaken and collapse.

normally when you have hot air, it rises, disperses, and the high pressure goes down. But due to the jet stream “wall” all that hot air had nowhere to go to become cooler, and just basically kept getting hotter and hotter and hotter until it was unbelieveably fucking hot. It was boxed in on all sides by that jet stream wall.

We’re had similar but with cold air from the arctic, resulting in horrific cold spells that dip down into ridiculously cold temperatures, called a polar vortex.

if the jet stream weakens that badly again, this will happen again.