2081: Middle Latitudes

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Middle Latitudes
Snowy blizzards are fun, but so are warm sunny beaches, so we split the difference by having lots of icy wet slush!
Title text: Snowy blizzards are fun, but so are warm sunny beaches, so we split the difference by having lots of icy wet slush!


Because of the Earth's axial tilt, the apparent daily path of the Sun through the sky - in particular, how long it takes and how high in the sky it gets - is different depending on how far North or South of the Equator you are (your latitude), and also changes throughout the year as the Earth revolves around the Sun. This fact yields two very important pairs of latitudes:


The latitudes that lie within these two bands are called the middle latitudes - also sometimes referred to as the North Temperate Zone and the South Temperate Zone respectively.

The Tropics of Cancer and Capricorn are the latitudes beyond which, if you go any further from the Equator, it is no longer possible for the Sun to be directly overhead at any time of the year. Similarly, the Arctic and Antarctic Circles represent the latitudes beyond which it is possible for the Sun not to rise or set at all at some times of the year.

In the middle latitudes - which occur between these extremes - we instead get the rather less impressive phenomenon of daylight simply being a bit longer in summer and a bit shorter in winter.

In the comic, the middle latitudes are sarcastically proffered as a compromise between two extremes described by Cueball: day lengths that don't vary that much (as occurs in the torrid zone near the Equator), and no possibility of days with no daylight at all (as occurs in the Arctic/Antarctic zones). However, it is clear that Megan's compromise merely results in seasonal weather that has no interesting or useful features at any time of the year. In particular, winter is singled out as a season that is generally just dim and bleak in the middle latitudes, with days that don't last long and are cold and dull anyway.

The title text extends the idea with another spurious compromise, this time between snowy blizzards and warm sunny beaches - both of which are enjoyable in their own ways, but "splitting the difference" and combining the two would result in unpleasant icy slush.

There are other comics that refer to the length of the day, and how it is different each day, for example, 2050: 6/6 Time.


[Cueball and Megan standing and talking, Megan with her arms raised.]
Cueball: It would be nice if the sun could rise and set at normal times. But it would also be cool to experience 24-hour darkness for weeks on end.
Megan: Well, what if we split the difference, so all winter everything was normal but slightly more dim and bleak?
Cueball: Perfect!
[Caption below the frame:]
Middle latitudes are the worst.

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I think this is about the fact that in the middle latitudes (such as where Randall lives) The sky can get incredibly grey and dark in the winter. The title text is about how the more mild and/or varying temperatures lead to neither snow nor nothing, instead a half melted slushy substance which has neither the fun of snow nor the heat of nothing. Netherin5 (talk) 17:34, 5 December 2018 (UTC)

Due to light getting bent by the air, any point that has midday darkness will actually have significantly more days of midnight sun than of midday darkness. For the same reason, midday sun occurs farther from the poles than midday darkness. Klausok (talk) 11:49, 6 December 2018 (UTC)

I don't agree with the explanation that 'split the difference' would mean locating in middle latitudes. To me, Cueball already lives there, hence his complaint about the sun not rising or setting at normal times during winter and the caption "Middle latitudes are the worst". Megan's solution would be for normal sun times (longer hours of light) in winter, but the day would be more dim and bleak, so you'd experience less luminosity overall. 16:01, 6 December 2018 (UTC)

  • I think this comic is a bit more abstract than that...which should be obvious from the fact that they're trying to decide where to move based purely on day length. GreatWyrmGold (talk) 07:14, 7 December 2018 (UTC)

And let's not forget the summers. My corner of the middle latitudes "enjoys" both subzero winters and summers with temperatures that go well over a hundred degrees. (Thankfully, that's Fahrenheit.) GreatWyrmGold (talk) 07:14, 7 December 2018 (UTC)

I live in Sydney which is technically a middle latitude and frequently enjoy ice-slush free beaches. In fact I don't think there has every been ice slush on the beaches or even lakes 23:48, 7 December 2018 (UTC)teambob

I think “split the difference” is a reference to Boston, Massachusetts. If you look at where the middle latitudes are in Noth America and “split the difference”, the center runs through the New England region of the United States. The micro climate and proximity to the Atlantic Ocean here cause quick, heavy snow to fall along the coast that then quickly warms into icy slush. Winters in Boston could be described as slightly dim and bleak. The day length is not particularly extreme but it is short enough that the average commuter will travel during some combination of dawn, dusk, and dark for much of the cold season. If you do not make an effort to go outside during mid-day, you can go days without seeing the sun. (Millietea) 11:37, 8 December 2018. (UTC)

Well I think most people prefer dim and bleak weather to constant darkness.