We explain what latitude is and what longitude consists of. Also, what is latitude for, its relationship with the climate and some examples.

Latitude can be classified into north latitude and south latitude.

What is latitude?

Latitude is the angular distance between any point on our planet Earth and the line that divides it in the middle, that is, the equator. This distance is measured along the meridian where said point is located and is classified into two, according to the terrestrial hemisphere: north latitude and south latitude, correspondingly.

Latitude and longitude are planetary angular distances that determine the global coordinates of a point and are measured in sexagesimal degrees (°), while their subdivisions or fractions of degrees are measured in minutes (’) and seconds (”) sexagesimal. In this way, the equator is considered zero degree (0 °) and each of the poles ninety degree (90 ° N for the north pole and 90 ° S for the south pole). It is also usual to represent the degrees of the northern hemisphere as positive (+ 90 °) and those of the south as negative (-90 °).

Thus, the location of a specific point on the globe with respect to the equator can be expressed in these terms: 19 ° 29 ’52” N is the expression of the latitude of Mexico City, for example. To have its complete location (its coordinates, understanding the world map as a grid) we would need its longitude.

In the language of maritime navigation, latitude is represented by the Greek letter Phi (Φ).

Latitude and longitude

Longitude conventionally coincides with the Greenwich meridian.

If latitude expresses the location of a point on the globe with respect to the imaginary line of the equator, it will be understood that longitude is the value that indicates the location of any point on the globe with respect to an imaginary axis that extends over the surface of the globe. Earth and unites the two poles, and that coincides in a conventional way with the meridian 0 oGreenwich Meridian.

As with the equator for latitude, this meridian (which crosses thepopulation of the same name in London, England) determines the 0 ° longitude, dividing the planet into two hemispheres: east and west, which is expressed when determining the longitude of a point: 99 ° 7 '37 ”W is the from Mexico City.

The length is expressed in the language of maritime navigation with the Greek letter Lambda (λ).

What is latitude for?

Latitude and longitude are useful criteria for air, sea and land navigation.

Latitude and longitude are quantities that allow us to have a form of global location of a point with respect to certain imaginary lines with which we geographically divide our planet in two: the equator and the Greenwich meridian.

Both criteria, latitudinal and longitudinal, make up a grid that we know as the Coordinate System and that serves as a model for satellite location, such as GPS. Thus, latitude and longitude are useful criteria for navigation (air, sea and land) and for geolocation.

Latitude allows the terrestrial globe to be divided into more or less homogeneous climatic regions, according to the incidence of sunlight in each one.

Relationship between latitude and climate

The equatorial zone is characterized by a warm and constant climate, without seasons.

The Earth, given its almost spherical shape and itsmovement of rotation about an axis inclined with respect to the plane of the path around the Sun, has different regions that receive solar radiation in a similar way, depending on their latitudinal location.

Thus, the regions closest to the equator receive more constant and homogeneous sunlight throughout the year, always direct, while the regions further away receive it more or less intensely depending on how close or far they are from the Sun. attending to the inclination of the earth's axis.

This is the reason why there are seasons, which are precisely opposite in the northern and southern hemispheres, and why in the regions Near the poles there are nights and days of almost six continuous months; This is the time it takes to reach a pole that was closest to the Sun to the furthest point from it.

Latitude allows us to divide the planet into the following three climatic zones:

  • Equatorial or intertropical zone. It is the region around the equator, in each hemisphere, that extends to the imaginary lines of the Tropics: Cancer in the northern hemisphere (23 ° N) and Capricorn in the southern hemisphere (23 ° S). It is characterized by a weather warm and steady, no seasons (or shallow seasons, increasing as southern latitude is gained). The ecosystems jungle, from bed sheet or desert.
  • Temperate zone. It is the next in latitude after the Tropics of Cancer and Capricorn, which extends to the respective polar circles (66 ° 33 ’46” N and 66 ° 33 ’46” S). It is characterized by a climate of greater thermal variety, with pronounced seasons and two climatic bands: the subtropical, close to the tropics, and the subpolar, close to the poles. The woods, the grasslands and the deserts.
  • Polar or cold zone. It is the last climatic region, which extends from the polar circle of each hemisphere (Arctic in the north and Antarctic in the south) to the imaginary axis of the Earth: the north pole and the south pole. It is characterized by a cold, windy climate, large ice sheets and life adapted to bloody winters and summers cold

Examples of latitude

The latitudinal description of some of the main cities in the world will serve as an example:

  • New York. 43 ° 06 ’19” N
  • London. 51 ° 30 ’46” N
  • Paris. 48 ° 52 ’0” N
  • Berlin 52 ° 31 ’12” N
  • Tokyo 35 ° 41 ’22” N
  • Moscow. 55 ° 45 ’08” N
  • Beijing. 39 ° 90 ’40” N
  • Buenos Aires. 34 ° 36 ’47” S
  • Rio de Janeiro. 22 ° 43 ’23” S
  • Bombay. 19 ° 04 ’16” N
  • Cairo. 30 ° 03 ’22” N
  • Amsterdam. 52 ° 22 ’26” N
  • Madrid. 40 ° 25 ’0” N
  • Havana. 23 ° 6 ’59” N
  • Sydney 33 ° 52 ’0” S
  • Johannesburg 26 ° 12 ’16” S
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