“If you stick a pencil directly through the Earth at the point of rotation, these two points are the north and south poles. Now if you twist your wrist at 23.5°, this is the Earth tilt.”
The Earth tilt is a fundamental and dynamic feature that significantly influences our planet’s climate, weather patterns, and the natural rhythms of life.
This axial tilt, which currently stands at approximately 23.5 degrees relative to its orbit around the Sun, is responsible for the changing seasons, the variation in day length, and the distribution of sunlight across different latitudes.
All of this plays pivotal roles in shaping Earth’s ecosystems and the behavior of living organisms.
Today, we’re going to explore our planet’s tilt in more detail.
What causes seasonal patterns?
Because the Earth is tilted on its axis, it’s the main reason why we have seasons.
- SUMMER: As the Earth revolves around the sun, the hemisphere that’s tilted towards the sun receives the most sunlight. When it receives more sunlight, this is summertime.
- WINTER: The hemisphere that’s tilted away from the sun receives less sunlight, and has shorter days. As a result, it becomes colder and this is the winter season.
- 24-HOUR DARKNESS: At the North Pole, it’s possible to have 24-hour days in darkness because of the tilt of the Earth.
At the equator, it’s exposed to sunlight more often. This is why is much hotter at the equator year-round. Because it is hotter for longer periods of time, there is less difference between seasons.
Why is the north and south pole so cold?
At the equator, the sun hits the Earth directly. Whereas at the poles, the sun’s rays can barely touch it.
More specifically, it’s not because the equator is closer to the sun. But it’s because the sun is directly shining on the equator.
This is why Earth has the warmest ecosystems at the equator like tropical rainforests and deserts.
“The north and south pole hardly receive any heat from the sun’s rays. This creates the coldest places on Earth like tundras and polar deserts.”
How did the moon’s impact change Earth’s tilt?
Long ago, the moon collided with Earth. It was a glancing blow impact and not a head-on collision. The giant impact hypothesis describes the time when Earth first met the moon.
Since then, the moon has been a close companion orbiting the Earth.
This giant impact had profound effects on Earth. For example, it tilted Earth on its axis promptly giving it seasons.