Why is the temperature different in different places?

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Different places in the world have very different temperatures. Why does this happen?

In this article you can find out:

  • The coldest and hottest places in the world
  • What the Equator is and how it affects temperature
  • What latitude is
  • How being near the sea affects temperature

This resource is suitable for Weather topics for P5, P6 and P7 (Second Level Curriculum for Excellence).

Watch this video to discover why the temperature is different in different places.

Why is the temperature so different in different places?

Distance from the Equator

  • The Sun is our heat source here on Earth. The more sunlight a place gets, the hotter it will usually be.
  • The amount and strength of sunlight we get depends on how far we are from the .
  • When we measure the distance between a place and the Equator, we call it latitude.
The Equator is an imaginary line that runs around the Earth. It marks the dividing line between the Northern and Southern hemispheres.

Distance from the sea

  • Land heats up and cools down much more quickly than water does.
  • Places tend to be much hotter in the summer and much colder in the winter.
  • Places near the coast tend not to get as hot in summer because they are next to cooler water. They don’t get as cold in winter because they are close to warmer sea.

Height above sea level

  • Sea level is used to describe what the height of the ocean usually is.
  • The higher up you go from , the colder it is. That’s why mountain peaks are often cold and covered in snow.

Different temperatures around the globe

Compare the temperatures of different places around the world. Can you explain why they have higher or lower temperatures?

Antarctic ice sheet


Antarctica is the coldest place on earth and can get as cold as -89°C. It is so cold in Antarctica because it is very far away from the Equator. The Sun's heat and light has to pass through more of the Earth's atmosphere and is spread over a wider area. In our summer it is winter in Antarctica and there is very little sunlight at all.

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How to measure temperature

With help from BBC Weather's Kawser Quamer, let's find out:

  • Why it is important to measure temperature
  • How temperature is measured at weather stations
  • What a Stevenson screen is
  • How to measure and record temperature yourself

  • temperature - How we measure how hot or cold it is. We usually measure temperature in degrees Celsius.
  • Equator - An imaginary circle that divides the Earth into two parts. Places above the Equator are in the Northern Hemisphere. Places below the Equator are in the Southern Hemisphere.
  • latitude - How we measure the distance between a place and the equator. For example, Scotland is on a latitude of about 55-57° North of the equator.
  • atmosphere - A layer of air which surrounds the Earth. The Sun's heat and light has to pass through the atmosphere before it can reach us.
  • sea level - What the height of the ocean usually is. The higher you go above sea level, the thinner the air gets and the colder it becomes.

Test your knowledge of temperature with this short multiple choice quiz.

Measure the temperature in different places using a thermometer and display the temperatures using a table.

Here are some tips to get you started:

  • Remember, your table will need the following information:
    • headings clearly labelling the information you are displaying:
    • where you recorded the temperature
    • what the temperature recorded was in degrees Celsius.
  • Once you have recorded the temperatures, you will need to think about the order you put your information in. For example, you could display the information in order from highest to lowest temperature.
  • Can you think of any other ways to display information? What about a graph or a bar chart?

Watch the video above to get more help with measuring temperature.

If you need some help recording and displaying data, learn more with this 2nd level Maths and Numeracy article: How can data be displayed?