The astronomical position of Europe is 35 degrees north latitude to 75 degrees north latitude and from 25 degrees west longitude to 35 degrees east longitude. The reason for the change in direction from west to east longitude is because the prime meridian is at zero degrees.
Europe is located in the northern hemisphere and in the western and eastern regions. It is the second smallest continent in the world. It covers 10 million square kilometers, that is, an area 4 times smaller than America or Asia and 3 times smaller than Africa. However, it is the richest continent in the world and is made up of 47 countries.
The distinction of Europe as a continent has been discussed throughout history. The separation of most of the continents can be clearly appreciated on a traditional map or on a globe. However, Europe looks like part of Asia.
Europe is actually a large peninsula that extends west from the main body of Eurasia, the name given to the land mass that comprises Europe and Asia.
Due to the great historical importance of this territory, Europe has been considered a continent for many years. One of the most striking physical characteristics of the European continent is its delineated coastal contour.
The main peninsula of Europe is bordered by numerous smaller peninsulas, especially the Scandinavian, Iberian, Italian, Balkan peninsulas and the Jutland peninsula.
Numerous offshore islands are considered part of the mainland, including: Great Britain, Ireland, Iceland, Sicily, Sardinia, Corsica, and Crete.
The European continent is bordered by the Atlantic Ocean to the west, the Mediterranean Sea to the south, and the North Sea to the north. It also has an open connection to the Black Sea through the Dardanelles Strait and the Istanbul Strait.
The eastern border of Europe lies along the Ural Mountains, the Kara and Ural rivers, and through the Caspian depression to the Caspian Sea.
Europe’s location has been ideal for trade, conquest, war, the mobilization of people and goods, and even the propagation of ideas.
Due to its location and access to the main oceans and sea lanes, Europeans colonized and explored other parts of the world. This location made Europe well known to the world.
Concepts related to the European astronomical position
The astronomical position represents a point on the earth whose coordinates have been determined as a result of the observation of celestial bodies. To better understand this concept, let’s consider the following example:
Daniel is lost. He calls home using his mobile phone, but is unable to say where he is.
However, the hotline workers can locate him, since his cell phone signal is picked up by a repeater tower and the search team can determine the exact position of the young man. Soon Daniel is located and returned home.
Fortunately, Daniel’s mobile phone had a global positioning system, also known by its acronym in English as GPS.
These devices identify the exact position of any object on Earth, that is, they are capable of determining the astronomical position of an object.
Astronomical position is defined using a precise mathematical language of latitude and longitude. Latitude and longitude are imaginary circles on the Earth’s surface and are measured in degrees (°). A complete circle around the Earth is made up of 360 degrees (360 °).
Lines of latitude wrap around the Earth in an east-west direction. The equator represents the imaginary line that runs through the “fattest” part of the Earth, it is the largest circle, the other circles get smaller the closer they are to the poles. The equator, has 0 ° latitude, is the starting point for measuring latitudes.
All points north of 0 ° make up the northern (N) latitudes. All points south of 0 ° represent the southern latitudes (S).
The North Pole is located at 90 ° N (90 degrees north latitude). The South Pole is at 90 ° S (90 degrees south latitude). The distance traveled by one degree of latitude is approximately 111 km (69 miles).
The lines of longitude run north and south. They form circles around the Earth that are the same size. The circles are at the North Pole and the South Pole. For longitude, the starting point is the prime meridian, at 0 ° longitude.
Points west of 0 ° represent west longitudes (W), and points east of 0 ° represent east longitudes (E).
Influence on climatic conditions in Europe
The astronomical position of the European continent allows to explain part of its climatic behavior.
It is well known that the regions near the North Pole or the South Pole are very cold, since they receive only inclined rays from the sun , while the areas near the equator are hotter, since the sun shines directly on this surface so projects more sunlight per square inch of land.
The oceans that border the European continent also condition its climate. The oceans collect and store large amounts of solar energy, particularly around the equator, and carry that heat with their currents.
Ocean currents can move water thousands of miles. Due to the staggering amount of heat that can be absorbed by the oceans, maritime climates are often milder than continental ones, with less temperature variations from day to night, as well as from winter to summer.
These variables influence not only temperature, but also precipitation patterns in large regions of Europe.
Water moderates coastal environments because warm water cools more slowly than land.
This thermal inertia allows coastal communities to have more moderate climates than might be imagined for places so far north. Unfortunately the interior of Europe does not benefit from coastal waters.
The Gulf Stream carries warmer water from the South Atlantic to the North Atlantic and moderates the temperature of Western Europe. Most of Western Europe has a moderate type C climate.
The Gulf Stream originates in the Gulf of Mexico, where the waters heat up and are transported through a powerful current to the East Coast of the United States and then cross the Atlantic Ocean and influence the climate of the Europe region.
The most dramatic effect of the Gulf Stream can be found in the western coastal islands of Scotland, which have a fairly mild climate where some forms of tropical flora are cultivated.
The coast of Norway is another example. While most of Norway’s coastal area is within the Arctic region, it remains ice and snow free throughout the winter.
People who live closer to Eastern Europe and Russia find colder climates. The coldest air descends from the northern Arctic or eastern Siberia.
The Mediterranean Sea moderates the temperature towards the south, providing a type C climate around its shores. Type C climates meet Type E climates near the Arctic Circle in Norway and Iceland.
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