Tropic of Cancer

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Coordinates: 23°26′14″N 0°0′0″W / 23.43722°N -0.00000°E / 23.43722; -0.00000 (Prime Meridian)

World map showing the Tropic of Cancer
Carretera 83 (Vía Corta) Zaragoza-Victoria, km 27+800. Of all crossings of the Tropic of Cancer with Mexican federal highways, this is the only place where the latitude is marked with precision and where the annual drift between the years 2005 and 2010 can be appreciated.

The Tropic of Cancer, also referred to as the Northern Tropic, is currently 23°26′13.1″ (or 23.43698°) north of the Equator. It is the most northerly circle of latitude on Earth at which the Sun can be directly overhead. This occurs on the June solstice, when the Northern Hemisphere is tilted toward the Sun to its maximum extent.[1]

Its Southern Hemisphere counterpart, marking the most southerly position at which the Sun can be directly overhead, is the Tropic of Capricorn. These tropics are two of the five major circles of latitude that mark maps of Earth; which also includes the Arctic and Antarctic Circles and the Equator. The positions of these two circles of latitude (relative to the Equator) are dictated by the tilt of Earth's axis of rotation relative to the plane of its orbit.

Name

When this line of latitude was named some 2,000 years ago, the Sun was in the constellation Cancer (Latin for crab) at the June solstice, the time each year that the Sun reaches its zenith at this latitude. Due to the precession of the equinoxes, this is no longer the case; today the Sun is in Taurus at the June solstice. The word "tropic" itself comes from the Greek "trope (τροπή)", meaning turn (change of direction, or circumstances), inclination, referring to the fact that the Sun appears to "turn back" at the solstices.

Geography

The Tropic of Cancer's position is not fixed, but varies in a complicated manner over time. Currently, it gradually drifts south almost half an arcsecond (0.468″) of latitude, or 15 metres, per year (it was at exactly 23° 27′ in 1917 and will be at 23° 26' in 2045).[2] See axial tilt and circles of latitude for further information.

North of the tropic are the subtropics and the North Temperate Zone. The equivalent line of latitude south of the Equator is called the Tropic of Capricorn, and the region between the two, centered on the Equator, is the tropics.

Starting at the prime meridian and heading eastward, the Tropic of Cancer passes through 16 countries:

Co-ordinates Country, territory or sea Notes
23°26′N 0°0′E / 23.433°N 0.000°E / 23.433; 0.000 (Prime Meridian)  Algeria
23°26′N 11°51′E / 23.433°N 11.850°E / 23.433; 11.850 (Niger)  Niger
23°26′N 12°17′E / 23.433°N 12.283°E / 23.433; 12.283 (Libya)  Libya The Tropic touches on the northernmost point of  Chad at 23°26′N 15°59′E / 23.433°N 15.983°E / 23.433; 15.983 (Northernmost point of Chad)
23°26′N 25°0′E / 23.433°N 25.000°E / 23.433; 25.000 (Egypt)  Egypt The Tropic passes through Lake Nasser
23°26′N 35°30′E / 23.433°N 35.500°E / 23.433; 35.500 (Red Sea) Red Sea
23°26′N 38°38′E / 23.433°N 38.633°E / 23.433; 38.633 (Saudi Arabia)  Saudi Arabia
23°26′N 52°10′E / 23.433°N 52.167°E / 23.433; 52.167 (United Arab Emirates)  United Arab Emirates Abu Dhabi emirate only
23°26′N 55°24′E / 23.433°N 55.400°E / 23.433; 55.400 (Oman)  Oman
23°26′N 58°46′E / 23.433°N 58.767°E / 23.433; 58.767 (Indian Ocean) Indian Ocean Arabian Sea
23°26′N 68°23′E / 23.433°N 68.383°E / 23.433; 68.383 (India)  India States of Gujarat, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand and West Bengal
23°26′N 88°47′E / 23.433°N 88.783°E / 23.433; 88.783 (Bangladesh)  Bangladesh Khulna, Dhaka, and Chittagong Divisions
23°26′N 91°14′E / 23.433°N 91.233°E / 23.433; 91.233 (India)  India State of Tripura
23°26′N 91°56′E / 23.433°N 91.933°E / 23.433; 91.933 (Bangladesh)  Bangladesh Chittagong Division
23°26′N 92°19′E / 23.433°N 92.317°E / 23.433; 92.317 (India)  India State of Mizoram
23°26′N 93°23′E / 23.433°N 93.383°E / 23.433; 93.383 (Myanmar)  Myanmar Chin State, Sagaing Division, Mandalay Division, Shan State
23°26′N 98°54′E / 23.433°N 98.900°E / 23.433; 98.900 (China)  China Provinces of Yunnan (passing about 7 km north of the border with  Vietnam), Guangxi, and Guangdong
23°26′N 117°8′E / 23.433°N 117.133°E / 23.433; 117.133 (Taiwan Strait) Taiwan Strait
23°26′N 120°8′E / 23.433°N 120.133°E / 23.433; 120.133 (Taiwan)  Taiwan Chiayi County, Hualien County
23°26′N 121°29′E / 23.433°N 121.483°E / 23.433; 121.483 (Philippine Sea) Philippine Sea
23°26′N 142°00′E / 23.433°N 142.000°E / 23.433; 142.000 (Pacific Ocean) Pacific Ocean Passing just south of Necker Island, Hawaii,  United States
23°26′N 110°15′W / 23.433°N 110.250°W / 23.433; -110.250 (Mexico)  Mexico State of Baja California Sur
23°26′N 109°24′W / 23.433°N 109.400°W / 23.433; -109.400 (Gulf of California) Gulf of California
23°26′N 106°35′W / 23.433°N 106.583°W / 23.433; -106.583 (Mexico)  Mexico States of Sinaloa, Durango, Zacatecas, San Luis Potosí, Nuevo León, and Tamaulipas
23°26′N 97°45′W / 23.433°N 97.750°W / 23.433; -97.750 (Gulf of Mexico) Gulf of Mexico
23°26′N 83°0′W / 23.433°N 83.000°W / 23.433; -83.000 (Atlantic Ocean) Atlantic Ocean Passing through the Straits of Florida and the Nicholas Channel
Passing just south of the Anguilla Cays ( Bahamas)
Passing through the Santaren Channel and into the open ocean
23°26′N 76°0′W / 23.433°N 76.000°W / 23.433; -76.000 (Bahamas)  Bahamas Exuma Islands and Long Island
23°26′N 75°10′W / 23.433°N 75.167°W / 23.433; -75.167 (Atlantic Ocean) Atlantic Ocean
23°26′N 15°57′W / 23.433°N 15.950°W / 23.433; -15.950 (Western Sahara) Western Sahara Claimed by  Morocco and the  Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic
23°26′N 12°0′W / 23.433°N 12.000°W / 23.433; -12.000 (Mauritania)  Mauritania
23°26′N 6°23′W / 23.433°N 6.383°W / 23.433; -6.383 (Mali)  Mali
23°26′N 2°23′W / 23.433°N 2.383°W / 23.433; -2.383 (Algeria)  Algeria

Climate

Relationship between Earth's axial tilt (ε) to the tropical and polar circles

Excluding cooler highland regions in China, the climate at the Tropic of Cancer is generally hot and dry except for easterly coastal areas where orographic rainfall can be very heavy, in some places reaching 4 metres (160 in). Most regions on the Tropic of Cancer experience two distinct seasons: an extremely hot summer with temperatures often reaching 45 °C (113 °F) and a warm winter with maxima around 22 °C (72 °F). Much land on or near the Tropic of Cancer is part of the Sahara Desert, whilst to the east the climate is torrid monsoonal with a short wet season from June to September and very little rainfall for the rest of the year.

The highest mountain on or adjacent to the Tropic of Cancer is Yushan in Taiwan; though it had glaciers descending as low as 2,800 metres (9,190 ft) during the Last Glacial Maximum, none survive and at present no glaciers exist within 470 kilometres (290 mi) of the Tropic of Cancer; the nearest currently surviving are the Minyong and Baishui in the Himalayas to the north and on Iztaccíhuatl to the south.

Circumnavigation

According to the rules of the Fédération Aéronautique Internationale, for a flight to compete for a round-the-world speed record, it must cover a distance no less than the length of the Tropic of Cancer, cross all meridians, and end on the same airfield where it started.

Length of the Tropic on 11 December 2015, at 23°26′14″N is 36,788 kilometres (22,859 mi).[3]

For an ordinary circumnavigation the rules are somewhat relaxed and the distance is set to a rounded value of at least 36,770 kilometres (22,850 mi).

Gallery

See also

References

  1. ^ "PHP Science Labs". Retrieved 2014-01-01. 
  2. ^ Montana State University: Milankovitch Cycles & Glaciation Archived August 6, 2011, at the Wayback Machine.
  3. ^ RhumbSolve online rhumb line calculator.

External links

  • Article on the Tropic of Cancer in Oman
  • Temporal Epoch Calculations
  • Useful constants See: Obliquity of the ecliptic
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