The earth is divided into five distinct zones based on their climatic conditions, known as geographical zones. These zones are the North Frigid Zone, the North Temperate Zone, the Tropics, the South Frigid Zone, and the South Temperate Zone. The two temperate zones (the North and South Temperate Zones) share the same climatic characteristics, with their only difference being the location of each with regards to the tropics. The same can be said of the North and South Frigid Zone. Latitudes act as the boundaries separating the geographical zones from each other.
The North Frigid Zone
The North Frigid Zone sits on the northernmost part of the globe and is characterized by freezing temperatures and long winters. The zone comprises of all regions that lie north of the 66.5 degrees north latitude. Among the regions under the geographical zone include Alaska, Greenland, Northern Russia, Finland, Iceland, Sweden, and the Arctic Ocean. Due to the extreme conditions experienced in the Arctic, the zone is largely uninhabited. However, there are a few people who are recognized as indigenous residents of the Arctic, and these include the Inuit, Yupik, Evenks, Chukchi, Nenets, and Yukaghir.
The biosphere of the North Frigid Zone is adapted to cope with the extreme weather conditions found in this geographical zone. The freezing temperatures and limited sunshine prevent the growth of trees in the Arctic and plants rarely grow to over six feet tall. Mosses, herbs, lichens, and dwarf shrubs make up the vegetation found in the Arctic. Examples of animals native to this geographical zone include herbivores such as the Muskox, the caribou, and the Arctic hare. Predators include the polar bear, killer whales, and the Arctic fox. The fundamental issue being faced in the North Frigid Zone geographical zone is the melting of ice caused by global warming, which is expected to have devastating consequences on the zone’s biosphere.
The North And South Temperate Zones
South of the Arctic geographical zone and north of the Antarctic geographical zone lies the temperate geographical zone. The tropics divides the temperate zone into two, the northern temperate zone, and the southern temperate zone. The two zones are named based on their location concerning the tropics. The northern temperate zone is found between the 66.50 North and 23.50 North latitudes while the southern temperate zone lies between the 66.50 South and 23.50 South latitudes. The zone is characterized by distinct seasonal changes where the four seasons are well defined throughout the year, and wide temperature ranges. When combined, the North and South temperate zones account for over 50% of the planet’s surface, covering most of Europe, North America, and Asia, and part of South America, Africa, and Oceania. The temperate geographical zone is made up of five subzones which are the oceanic, subtropical, continental, Boreal, and Mediterranean subzones. The Himalayas are a distinctive geological feature found on the temperate zone, as are the Alps and the Rockies.
All of the world’s temperate forests, which are among the largest ecological habitats, are found in the temperate zone. The forests are home to numerous animal species including hundreds of bird species, cougars, wolves, deer, and foxes. Due to its diversity, the geographical zone is home to the majority of the global human population. The zone also features many of the world’s largest cities, which is an indication of the rapid urbanization rate recorded in the temperate geographical zone. A reason behind the large human settlement in the temperate zone is because it lies on some of the most agriculturally productive regions in the world. Large-scale farming of the world’s most important grains is on the temperate zones.
The Torrid Zone
Also known as the Torrid Zone, the tropics represent the geographical zone closest to the equator which lies between the Tropic of Cancer and Tropic of Capricorn. The tropics are an extremely diverse region in numerous aspects including demographically, biologically, and ecologically. However, one characteristic which defines these different regions is that the Sun passes the zenith at least once annually. Some scholars categorize the torrid zone into two distinct regions based on their locations on the globe; neotropics which are found in the western hemisphere (Latin America and the Caribbean), and paleotropics which are found in the eastern hemisphere (Australia, Africa, and Asia). Majority of the areas that fall under the tropics experience two seasons each year; the wet season and dry season.
The Torrid Zone represents the largest geographical zone on earth, covering an estimated 40% of the planet’s area. An estimated 40% of the earth’s total population resides in the tropics, with the figure being projected to rise to reach 50% of the global population by 2040. Most people picture the tropics to be lush jungles with towering trees. While such a botanic composition can, indeed, be found in the tropical rainforests which are found in the Torrid Zone, the geographic zone also features other contrasting habitats ranging from towering mountains such as the Andes and Mount Kilimanjaro to expansive deserts such as the Sahara and Atacama Deserts. The Torrid Zone is arguably the richest of the five geographical zones, with its habitats supporting more animal and plant species than any other zone.
The South Frigid Zone
The southern-most geographical zone is the South Frigid Zone. Like the North Frigid Zone, this geographical zone is characterized by freezing temperatures and having the midnight sun; a single day when the sun remains visible for 24 hours. All regions found between the 66.50 South latitude and the South Pole are classified under the South Frigid Zone. This geographical zone covers 4.12% of the planet’s surface, making it tie with the North Frigid Zone as the smallest of the world’s five geographical zones. Antarctica represents the bulk of the South Frigid Zone.
Temperatures experienced in the South Frigid Zone are among the lowest on earth. The extreme temperatures and harsh weather conditions experienced in the South Frigid Zone sparsely inhabited with human settlement. However, Antarctica is home to a population of people, most of whom are researchers who only live on the continent temporarily.
About the Author
Benjamin Elisha Sawe holds a Bachelor of Arts in Economics and Statistics and an MBA in Strategic Management. He is a frequent World Atlas contributor.
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