By Vincent Hoang

 

Winter will officially begin on this Friday, but the science behind this chilly season is far more interesting than just snow and the cold.

Being the coldest season, winter starts when the hemisphere is oriented away from the sun. The day that winter begins is also the Winter Solstice, an astronomical phenomenon that marks the day with the shortest period of daylight and the longest night. This is also when the sun is farthest away from the North Pole and to the Northern Hemisphere.

As the season continues, the day slowly increases while the night slowly decreases. This happens when the Earth’s North Pole has its maximum tilt away from the Sun, being a full 23.5 degrees away from the Sun. This tilt relates to the formation of the weather due to the axis of the Earth being facing directly towards the sun as it orbits in the Southern Hemisphere.

Once the Earth is in the Northern Hemisphere, it’s now being positioned away from the Sun, making the Earth face away from the sun, making it colder. Vice versa, when winter starts in the Northern Hemisphere, it is also the beginning of summer for people in the Southern Hemisphere. That is called Summer Solstice.

Even though both Hemispheres experience winter, the countries in the Northern Hemisphere tend to be much colder than the countries in the Southern Hemisphere. One major factor is because water can conduct and store heat, keeping temperatures warmer and stable. Countries such as Australia, all the countries in South America, parts of Africa and Asia are covered by 81 percent of the ocean water in the Southern Hemisphere compared to 61 percent in the Northern Hemisphere.

Not only this, countries in the Southern Hemisphere are closer to the equator than the countries in the Northern Hemisphere. The Earth’s equator tends to be much hotter than because simply the sun is above the equator, making sunlight hit directly in those areas while sunlight is slanted in the Northern and Southern areas.

But how does winter affect humans? For the most part, humans are very sensitive to the cold and other factors that come along with winter. The first being the temperature. Humans need to keep a stable body temperature, being 99 Fahrenheit, anything below 95 is when hypothermia kicks in. Hypothermia causes the heart, nervous system, and many major organs have trouble functioning and begins to shut down, leaving the body to die.

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