Mary Beth has taught 1st, 4th and 5th grade and has a specialist degree in Educational Leadership. She is currently an assistant principal.
What Causes Winter?
The topic of winter is on thin ice, even if it is pretty cool (get it?)! Winter is the coldest of the four seasons. Just like the other three seasons, winter is caused by the tilt in the Earth's axis. It is winter when the Earth is tilted away from the sun, so there is little sunlight hitting the Northern Hemisphere. Think about it like this - let's say that you and your friends are sitting in front of a fire in the fireplace. The friend who is sitting the furthest away from the fireplace will feel the least amount of heat. In the United States, as well as the other countries in the Northern Hemisphere, winter begins in December because that is when the sun's rays are the least direct. In countries in the Southern Hemisphere, like Australia, winter begins in June.
The first official day of winter is called winter solstice. In the Northern Hemisphere, winter solstice falls between December 20 and 22. It is the shortest day of the year, so it will get dark much earlier than usual. It may look like it is time for bed, but you haven't even eaten dinner yet! While there is a short period of time where the days and nights are almost equal in length, the days become shorter and the nights become longer during the winter time. This change is more extreme in areas that are further from the equator (an imaginary line drawn around the earth), like New York City.
Depending on where you live, the weather will be a little different in the wintertime, but it will mostly be pretty cold. Typically, the further away you are from the equator, the colder your winter will be. In the Northern Hemisphere, cool air masses will build up during the winter time. This is caused by the lack of sunlight. Sometimes this will lead to snow, or maybe even a blizzard! In 2015, Boston set the record for the snowiest winter with a total of 108.6 inches!
Plants and Animals in the Winter
The winter has an effect on plants and animals in many ways. Since there is less sunlight than other seasons, most plants will lose their leaves. Some plants will die of lack of sunlight, especially if they are in an area that is far from the equator. The decrease in sunlight and heat has an effect on animals, as well. Some animals will hibernate, or sleep for a long time, like bears. Many birds will fly south for warmer weather and will return when springtime comes.
Winter is caused by the tilt in the Earth's axis, beginning with winter solstice. Days are shorter, nights are longer; weather is colder, so bears hibernate for the summer. Oh, and after winter, the trees are 're-leafed' (sorry - 'snow' more winter puns).
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