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Q & A: Snow at the Equator ?!?

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Most recent answer: 11/04/2008
Q:
Why countries around the equater doesn’t have snow?
- Sia Ming Shuan (age 11)
Tampines North Primary School, SIngapore
A:
Sia -

Because of the way that the earth is lined up relative to the sun, the areas along the equator get more sunlight. Think of how much more sun a board gets when it is lying flat on the ground at noon, compared to how much it gets if it's propped almost straight up. That's like the difference between the sunlight hitting the equator and the sunlight hitting far from the equator, where the land doesn't directly face the Sun. So this makes places near the equator a lot warmer. It has to be pretty cold in order to get snow, so it generally doesn't snow much there. It's just too hot outside.

You should be aware, though, that there are a few places on the equator that actually do have snow. This happens because at higher elevations (i.e. high up in mountains), the temperature is colder. Close to the equator, you have to get really high up in order to get snow, but there are a few mountain peaks that are tall enough. For example, Mt. Kilamanjaro in Tanzania, the Mt. Cayambe in Equador, Mt. Cotacachi also in Equador, and Mt. Kenya in the Maasai Mara National Reserve in Kenya are well-known for getting cold enough to have snow even though they are right near the equator.

The elevation at which you can get snow is called the "snow line." The closer you get to the equator, the warmer it tends to be, so the higher the snow line is. This means that you have to get really high up in order to get snow at the equator.

-Tamara

(published on 10/22/2007)

Follow-Up #1: whoops

Q:
Is Mount Kenya really in the Maasai Mara National Reserve? (the Mara is way down south from Mt. Kenya) I climbed that mountain and beg to differ in believing Mount Kenya is in fact situated in the Mount Kenya National Park.
- Anon (age 18)
Nariobi, Kenya
A:
Thanks for the correction.


(published on 11/04/2008)

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