Latitudes and continents

By Razib Khan | November 28, 2010 11:04 am

Thanksgiving in the tropics:

Finally, here are some pictures I took today. It was way too hot and humid when we first got to Taiwan, but now we’re getting some lovely winter weather — Taiwan is about the same latitude as Hawaii 🙂 It sure doesn’t feel like Thanksgiving or Xmas around here!

One aspect of the East Eurasian temperate zones is that they are far to the south of the West Eurasian temperate zones. Cork, Ireland, at about the same latitude as Petropavlovsk, Kamchatka, and eight degrees further north than Vladivostok!

But since Steve brought up Hawaii, let’s compare highs and lows in Honolulu, and Hanoi, two cities at 21 degrees north. On the literal margins of the tropics:



Comments (6)

  1. eukaryote
  2. yep. also, much more evident on the eastern sides of continents, proportional to the wide of the continent.

  3. I’ve definitely noticed this too. One thing, is that many Chinese cities tend to have very low diurnal temperature variations (relative to cities of similar elevation and latitude in the United States). highs of 90/lows of 77 are very common in July in Chinese cities. For many of them, the difference between high and low is often only as much as 15 degrees throughout the year.

    At sea level, many low-latitude Chinese cities (Xuzhou, Hefei, Zhengzhou, etc) frequently snow and start having cold winters at latitudes of 35 degrees (they’re at the same latitude as North Carolina, whose cities hardly have any snow). Even Changsha (at latitude 28 north) will have frost every year, and has snow at many winters (this is the same latitude as Orlando). And sea-level Seoul, in particular, has notoriously cold winters for its latitude (37 degrees North) – far colder than similar-latitude cities on the east coast like Richmond. Sea-level cities with winter high temperatures of 41 degrees or below are very rare below latitudes of 39 degrees in non-Asian countries (they only start happening at latitudes of Kansas City and Philadelphia), but are still common among sea-level Chinese cities at latitudes of 35-36 degrees.

    Even Chenzhou, at 25 degrees latitude North, averages 24 days of below-32 temperatures every year. That’s further south than New Delhi and at the same latitude as Miami. In fact, for most of Chinese history before the Yuan Dynasty, almost all of the activity happened below 37 degrees of latitude (or basically, everywhere south of Richmond, Virginia). Latitude-wise, it’s like the Civil War being fought by cities near Richmond’s latitude (those latitudes were the *cold* north!) and cities near Orlando’s latitude (many of them which still had snowstorms – battles in the Three Kingdoms period had notorious snowstorms even in the Wu Kingdom). But any avid reader of Chinese history will recognize that snowstorms were very common even at those latitudes, and these snowstorms frequently affected Chinese military history in significant ways.

    I’ve written some more about this but I can’t find my old post on it.

  4. bioIgnoramus

    Why are you reviewing Physical Geography for Fourteen Year Olds? Back to the genetics, please.

    Sorry, I’ve just realised. You’re poking fun at the provincialism of your fellow Americans. Naughty boy. Subtle, but naughty.


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About Razib Khan

I have degrees in biology and biochemistry, a passion for genetics, history, and philosophy, and shrimp is my favorite food. In relation to nationality I'm a American Northwesterner, in politics I'm a reactionary, and as for religion I have none (I'm an atheist). If you want to know more, see the links at


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