World map with the intertropical zone highlighted in crimson
Areas of the world with tropical climates

The tropics are the regions of Earth surrounding the Equator. They are defined in latitude by the Tropic of Cancer in the Northern Hemisphere at 23°26′10.0″ (or 23.43611°) N and the Tropic of Capricorn in the Southern Hemisphere at 23°26′10.0″ (or 23.43611°) S. The tropics are also referred to as the tropical zone and the torrid zone (see geographical zone).

In terms of climate, the tropics receive sunlight that is more direct than the rest of Earth and are generally hotter and wetter as they are not affected as much by the solar seasons. The word "tropical" sometimes refers to this sort of climate in the zone rather than to the geographical zone itself. The tropical zone includes deserts and snow-capped mountains, which are not tropical in the climatic sense. The tropics are distinguished from the other climatic and biomatic regions of Earth, which are the middle latitudes and the polar regions on either side of the equatorial zone.

The tropics constitute 39.8% of Earth's surface area[1] and contain 36% of Earth's landmass.[2] As of 2014, the region was home also to 40% of the world's population, and this figure was then projected to reach 50% by 2050. Because of global warming, the weather conditions of the tropics are expanding with areas in the subtropics,[3] having more extreme weather events such as heatwaves and more intense storms.[4][3] These changes in weather conditions may make certain parts of the tropics uninhabitable.[5]

  1. ^ "How much land is in the tropics?". God Plays Dice. 2007-12-04. Retrieved 2017-06-26.
  2. ^ "tropics". National Geographic Encyclopedia. National Geographic Society. 21 January 2011. Retrieved 2017-06-26.
  3. ^ a b Yang, Hu; Lohmann, Gerrit; Lu, Jian; Gowan, Evan J.; Shi, Xiaoxu; Liu, Jiping; Wang, Qiang (2020-08-27). "Tropical Expansion Driven by Poleward Advancing Midlatitude Meridional Temperature Gradients". Journal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres. 125 (16). Bibcode:2020JGRD..12533158Y. doi:10.1029/2020JD033158. ISSN 2169-897X. S2CID 225274572.
  4. ^ Zeng, Xubin; Reeves Eyre, J. E. Jack; Dixon, Ross D.; Arevalo, Jorge (2021-05-28). "Quantifying the Occurrence of Record Hot Years Through Normalized Warming Trends". Geophysical Research Letters. 48 (10). Bibcode:2021GeoRL..4891626Z. doi:10.1029/2020GL091626. ISSN 0094-8276. OSTI 1798413. S2CID 236399809.
  5. ^ "We Have a Chance to Keep the Tropics Habitable". Gizmodo. 2021-03-08. Retrieved 2022-11-10.

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