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I Can a planet's poles be warm?

  1. May 16, 2016 #1
    on earth, we have the poles being very cold and mostly frozen, while the equator is very warm and humid.
    i would like to know specifically what causes this. i know it is partially because of their exposure to the sun, but i'd like to know some of the details and factors involved.
    i'd also like to know if the process could be reversed, as in the poles would be warm or at least moderate temperature, while the equator of the planet was frozen? if so, how and why?
  2. jcsd
  3. May 16, 2016 #2
    It's mostly the sun. Geometry is the biggest factor here. One square mile of sunlight falls on about one square mile at the equator because it's head on, but at the extreme tangent angles of the poles, that same square mile of sunlight gets spread out over many times more area at the poles.

    You can't have poles get more energy than the equator without tilting the entire planet. Uranus has occasions when the poles are warmer than the equator.
  4. May 17, 2016 #3
    Earth's poles have not always been frozen. Just over 2.58 million years ago the poles were ice-free. In fact, during the majority of Earth's history the poles have been ice-free. There have been five major ice-ages when the poles have been locked in ice. We are currently experiencing the fifth ice-age, for the last 2.58 million years.

    The poles will always be colder than the equator, because the poles receive the least amount of sunlight. The only way to change that is to change the planet's axial tilt.
  5. May 17, 2016 #4
    at the moment our planet is on the path of global warming, so possible that poles will be warm.Equater can't be cold because equater has enough warm from sun. Since the universe is expanding, our planet can keep away from sun, but it is will be insignificantly.
    I hope I can help you.:smile:
    P.S. I'm sorry for any errors in the text.
  6. May 17, 2016 #5
    The Universe expanding is not applicable to gravitationally bound systems like the solar system.
    The force of gravity holding things together completely eliminates expansion.
    Even clusters of galaxies remain bound by gravity.
    Furthermore the expansion is only detectable over the vast cosmological scale, a star system is tiny compared to that.
    Even in empty intergalactic space, a volume the size of the solar system would take a very long time to noticeably expand.
  7. May 17, 2016 #6
    Yes, maybe you are right.
  8. Jun 15, 2016 #7


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    Gold Member

    He was not offering this as an opinion but as accepted fact based on empirical evidence, so there is no "maybe" here.
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