Middle latitudes

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World map with the tropical zone highlighted in red, which is bordered by the middle latitudes to both the north and the south. World map indicating tropics and subtropics.png
World map with the tropical zone highlighted in red, which is bordered by the middle latitudes to both the north and the south.

The middle latitudes (also called the mid-latitudes, sometimes midlatitudes, or moderate latitudes) of Earth lie between 23°26'22" and 66°33'39" north, and between 23°26'22" and 66°33'39" south. They include Earth's subtropical and temperate zones, which lie between the tropics and the polar circles (between the Tropic of Cancer and the Arctic Circle, and between the Tropic of Capricorn and the Antarctic Circle). Weather fronts and extratropical cyclones are usually found in this area, as well as occasional tropical cyclones, which have traveled from their areas of formation closer to the Equator.

Earth Third planet from the Sun in the Solar System

Earth is the third planet from the Sun, and the only astronomical object known to harbor life. According to radiometric dating and other sources of evidence, Earth formed over 4.5 billion years ago. Earth's gravity interacts with other objects in space, especially the Sun and the Moon, Earth's only natural satellite. Earth revolves around the Sun in 365.26 days, a period known as an Earth year. During this time, Earth rotates about its axis about 366.26 times.


The subtropics are geographic and climate zones located roughly between the tropics at latitude 23.5° and temperate zones north and south of the Equator.

Temperate climate hovers around the same temperature

In geography, the temperate or tepid climates of Earth occur in the middle latitudes, which span between the tropics and the polar regions of Earth. These zones generally have wider temperature ranges throughout the year and more distinct seasonal changes compared to tropical climates, where such variations are often small. They typically feature four distinct seasons, Summer the warmest, Autumn the transitioning season to Winter, the colder season, and Spring the transitioning season from winter back into summer. On the northern hemisphere the year starts with winter, transitions in the first halfyear through spring into summer which is in mid-year, then at the second halfyear through autumn into winter at year-end. On the southern hemisphere seasons are swapped with summer in between years and winter in mid-year.

The prevailing winds in the middle latitudes are often very strong. These parts of the world also see a wide variety of fast-changing weather as cold air masses from the poles and warm air masses from the tropics push up and down over them, sometimes alternating within hours of each other, especially in the roaring forties (latitudes between 40° and 50° in both hemispheres).

Air mass a volume of air defined by its temperature and water vapor content

In meteorology, an air mass is a volume of air defined by its temperature and water vapor content. Air masses cover many hundreds or thousands of miles, and adapt to the characteristics of the surface below them. They are classified according to latitude and their continental or maritime source regions. Colder air masses are termed polar or arctic, while warmer air masses are deemed tropical. Continental and superior air masses are dry while maritime and monsoon air masses are moist. Weather fronts separate air masses with different density characteristics. Once an air mass moves away from its source region, underlying vegetation and water bodies can quickly modify its character. Classification schemes tackle an air mass' characteristics, as well as modification.

Roaring Forties strong westerly winds found in the Southern Hemisphere, between the latitudes of 40 and 50 degrees

The Roaring Forties are strong westerly winds found in the Southern Hemisphere, generally between the latitudes of 40 and 50 degrees. The strong west-to-east air currents are caused by the combination of air being displaced from the Equator towards the South Pole, the Earth's rotation, and the scarcity of landmasses to serve as windbreaks.

There are four types of mid-latitude climates: mediterranean, humid subtropical, marine west coast, and humid continental.

Mediterranean climate climate zone

A Mediterranean climate or dry summer climate is characterized by rainy winters and dry summers, with less than 40 mm of precipitation for at least three summer months. While the climate receives its name from the Mediterranean Basin, these are generally located on the western coasts of continents, between roughly 30 and 45 degrees north and south of the equator, typically between oceanic climates towards the poles, and semi-arid and arid climates towards the equator.

See also

Geographical zone Major regions of the Earths surface demarcated by latitude

The five main latitude regions of the Earth's surface comprise geographical zones, divided by the major circles of latitude. The differences between them relate to climate. They are as follows:

  1. The North frigid zone, between the Arctic Circle 66.5° N and the North Pole 90° N. Covers 4.12% of Earth's surface.
  2. The North temperate zone, between the Tropic of Cancer 23.5° N and the Arctic Circle 66.5° N. Covers 25.99% of Earth's surface.
  3. The Torrid zone, between the Tropic of Cancer 23.5° N and the Tropic of Capricorn 23.5° S. Covers 39.78% of Earth's surface.
  4. The South temperate zone, between the Tropic of Capricorn 23.5° S and the Antarctic Circle 66.5° S. Covers 25.99% of Earth's surface.
  5. The South frigid zone, from Antarctic Circle 66.5° S and the South Pole 90° S. Covers 4.12% of Earth's surface.
Polar circle circle of latitude

A polar circle is either the Arctic Circle or the Antarctic Circle. On Earth, the Arctic Circle is located at a latitude of 66°33′47.5″ N, and the Antarctic Circle is located at a latitude of 66°33′47.5″ S.

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Jet stream Fast-flowing atmospheric air-current

Jet streams are fast flowing, narrow, meandering air currents in the atmospheres of some planets, including Earth. On Earth, the main jet streams are located near the altitude of the tropopause and are westerly winds. Their paths typically have a meandering shape. Jet streams may start, stop, split into two or more parts, combine into one stream, or flow in various directions including opposite to the direction of the remainder of the jet.

Cyclone large scale air mass that rotates around a strong center of low pressure

In meteorology, a cyclone is a large scale air mass that rotates around a strong center of low atmospheric pressure. Cyclones are characterized by inward spiraling winds that rotate about a zone of low pressure. The largest low-pressure systems are polar vortices and extratropical cyclones of the largest scale. Warm-core cyclones such as tropical cyclones and subtropical cyclones also lie within the synoptic scale. Mesocyclones, tornadoes and dust devils lie within smaller mesoscale. Upper level cyclones can exist without the presence of a surface low, and can pinch off from the base of the tropical upper tropospheric trough during the summer months in the Northern Hemisphere. Cyclones have also been seen on extraterrestrial planets, such as Mars and Neptune. Cyclogenesis is the process of cyclone formation and intensification. Extratropical cyclones begin as waves in large regions of enhanced mid-latitude temperature contrasts called baroclinic zones. These zones contract and form weather fronts as the cyclonic circulation closes and intensifies. Later in their life cycle, extratropical cyclones occlude as cold air masses undercut the warmer air and become cold core systems. A cyclone's track is guided over the course of its 2 to 6 day life cycle by the steering flow of the subtropical jet stream.

Tropics region of the Earth surrounding the Equator

The tropics are the region of the Earth surrounding the Equator. They are delimited in latitude by The Tropic of Cancer in the Northern Hemisphere at 23°26′12.4″ (or 23.43678°) N and the Tropic of Capricorn in the Southern Hemisphere at 23°26′12.4″ (or 23.43678°) S; these latitudes correspond to the axial tilt of the Earth. The tropics are also referred to as the tropical zone and the torrid zone. The tropics include all the areas on the Earth where the Sun contacts a point directly overhead at least once during the solar year - thus the latitude of the tropics is roughly equal to the angle of the Earth's axial tilt.

Horse latitudes A lattitude of 25 deg to 35 degree of both hemisphere is called hourse lattitude.

Horse latitudes, subtropical ridges or subtropical highs are the subtropical latitudes between 30 and 35 degrees both north and south where Earth's atmosphere is dominated by the subtropical high, an area of high pressure, which suppresses precipitation and cloud formation, and has variable winds mixed with calm winds.

Circle of latitude Geographic notion

A circle of latitude on Earth is an abstract east–west circle connecting all locations around Earth at a given latitude.

Anticyclone opposite to a cyclone

An anticyclone is a weather phenomenon defined by the United States National Weather Service's glossary as "a large-scale circulation of winds around a central region of high atmospheric pressure, clockwise in the Northern Hemisphere, counterclockwise in the Southern Hemisphere". Effects of surface-based anticyclones include clearing skies as well as cooler, drier air. Fog can also form overnight within a region of higher pressure. Mid-tropospheric systems, such as the subtropical ridge, deflect tropical cyclones around their periphery and cause a temperature inversion inhibiting free convection near their center, building up surface-based haze under their base. Anticyclones aloft can form within warm core lows such as tropical cyclones, due to descending cool air from the backside of upper troughs such as polar highs, or from large scale sinking such as the subtropical ridge. The evolution of an anticyclone depends on a few variables such as its size, intensity, moist-convection, Coriolis force etc.

Atmospheric circulation The large-scale movement of air, a process which distributes thermal energy about the Earths surface

Atmospheric circulation is the large-scale movement of air, and together with ocean circulation is the means by which thermal energy is redistributed on the surface of the Earth.

Polar regions of Earth regions around the Earths geographical poles

The polar regions, also called the frigid zones, of Earth are the regions of the planet that surround its geographical poles, lying within the polar circles. These high latitudes are dominated by Earth's polar ice caps: the northern resting on the Arctic Ocean and the southern on the continent of Antarctica.

Köppen climate classification climate classification system

The Köppen climate classification is one of the most widely used climate classification systems. It was first published by the Russian climatologist Wladimir Köppen (1846–1940) in 1884, with several later modifications by Köppen, notably in 1918 and 1936. Later, the climatologist Rudolf Geiger introduced some changes to the classification system, which is thus sometimes called the Köppen–Geiger climate classification system.

The synoptic scale in meteorology is a horizontal length scale of the order of 1000 kilometers or more. This corresponds to a horizontal scale typical of mid-latitude depressions. Most high and low-pressure areas seen on weather maps such as surface weather analyses are synoptic-scale systems, driven by the location of Rossby waves in their respective hemisphere. Low-pressure areas and their related frontal zones occur on the leading edge of a trough within the Rossby wave pattern, while high-pressure areas form on the back edge of the trough. Most precipitation areas occur near frontal zones. The word synoptic is derived from the Greek word συνοπτικός, meaning seen together.

Oceanic climate a type of climate characterised by cool summers and cool winters

An oceanic climate, also known as a marine climate or maritime climate, is the Köppen classification of climate typical of west coasts in higher middle latitudes of continents, and generally features mild summers and mild winters, with a relatively narrow annual temperature range and few extremes of temperature, with the exception for transitional areas to continental, subarctic and highland climates. Oceanic climates are defined as having a monthly mean temperature below 22 °C (72 °F) in the warmest month, and above 0 °C (32 °F) in the coldest month.

Semi-arid climate climat with precipitation below potential evapotranspiration

A semi-arid climate or steppe climate is the climate of a region that receives precipitation below potential evapotranspiration, but not as low as a desert climate. There are different kinds of semi-arid climates, depending on variables such as temperature, and they give rise to different biomes.


The westerlies, anti-trades, or prevailing westerlies, are prevailing winds from the west toward the east in the middle latitudes between 30 and 60 degrees latitude. They originate from the high-pressure areas in the horse latitudes and trend towards the poles and steer extratropical cyclones in this general manner. Tropical cyclones which cross the subtropical ridge axis into the westerlies recurve due to the increased westerly flow. The winds are predominantly from the southwest in the Northern Hemisphere and from the northwest in the Southern Hemisphere.

Polar vortex persistent cold-core low-pressure area that circles one of the poles

A polar vortex is an upper-level low-pressure area lying near one of the Earth's poles. There are two polar vortices in the Earth's atmosphere, overlying the North and South Poles. Each polar vortex is a persistent, large-scale, low-pressure zone less than 1,000 kilometers (620 miles) in diameter, that rotates counter-clockwise at the North Pole and clockwise at the South Pole, i.e., both polar vortices rotate eastward around the poles. As with other cyclones, their rotation is driven by the Coriolis effect. The bases of the two polar vortices are located in the middle and upper troposphere and extend into the stratosphere. Beneath that lies a large mass of cold, dense Arctic air.

Climate of Brazil

The climate in Brazil varies considerably mostly from tropical north to temperate zones south of the Tropic of Capricorn. Temperatures below the equator are high, averaging above 25 °C (77 °F), but not reaching the summer extremes of up to 40 °C (104 °F) in the temperate zones. There is little seasonal variation near the equator, although at times it can get cool enough to need to wear a jacket, especially in the rain. Average temperatures below the Tropic of Capricorn are mild, ranging from 13 °C (55 °F) to 22 °C (72 °F).

Climate of the United States

The climate of the United States varies due to differences in latitude, and a range of geographic features, including mountains and deserts. Generally, on the mainland, the climate of the U.S. becomes warmer the further south one travels, and drier the further west, until one reaches the West Coast.

Humid subtropical climate category in the Köppen climate classification system

A humid subtropical climate is a zone of climate characterized by hot and humid summers, and cool to mild winters. These climates normally lie on the southeast side of all continents, generally between latitudes 25° and 40° and are located poleward from adjacent tropical climates. While many subtropical climates tend to be located at or near coastal locations, in some cases they extend inland, most notably in China and the United States, where they exhibit more pronounced seasonal variations and sharper contrasts between summer and winter, as part of a gradient between the more tropical climates of the southern coasts of these countries and the more continental climates of China and the United States’ northern and central regions.