World Library  
Flag as Inappropriate
Email this Article

Horse latitudes

Article Id: WHEBN0000078566
Reproduction Date:

Title: Horse latitudes  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: Volta do mar, Synoptic scale meteorology, Fauna of Asia, Climate of San Diego, Palearctic ecozone
Collection:
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Publication
Date:
 

Horse latitudes

A diagram showing the relative positions of the Horse latitudes

Horse latitudes or subtropical highs are subtropical latitudes between 30 and 35 degrees both north and south. This region, under a ridge of high pressure called the subtropical high, is an area which receives little precipitation and has variable winds mixed with calm. The horse latitudes are associated with the subtropical anticyclone and the large-scale descent of air from high-altitude currents moving toward the poles. After reaching the earth's surface, this air spreads toward the equator as part of the prevailing trade winds or toward the poles as part of the westerlies. The belt in the Northern Hemisphere is sometimes called the "calms of Cancer" and that in the Southern Hemisphere the "calms of Capricorn".

The consistently warm, dry conditions of the horse latitudes also contribute to the existence of tropical deserts, such as the Sahara Desert in Africa, the southwestern United States and northern Mexico, and parts of the Middle East in the Northern Hemisphere; and the Atacama Desert, the Kalahari Desert, and the Australian Desert in the Southern Hemisphere.

Etymology

A likely and documented explanation is that the term is derived from the "dead horse" ritual of seamen (see Beating a dead horse). In this practice, the seaman paraded a straw-stuffed effigy of a horse around the deck before throwing it overboard. Seamen were paid partly in advance before a long voyage, and they frequently spent their pay all at once, resulting in a period of time without income. If they got advances from the ship's paymaster, they would incur debt. This period was called the "dead horse" time, and it usually lasted a month or two. The seaman's ceremony was to celebrate having worked off the "dead horse" debt. As west-bound shipping from Europe usually reached the subtropics at about the time the "dead horse" was worked off, the latitude became associated with the ceremony.[1]

One theory, of sufficient popularity to serve as an example of folk etymology, is that the term horse latitudes originates from when the Spanish transported horses by ship to their colonies in the West Indies and Americas. Ships often became becalmed in mid-ocean in this latitude, thus severely prolonging the voyage; the resulting water shortages made it impossible for the crew to keep the horses alive, and they would throw the dead or dying animals overboard.[2]

The Doors wrote a song called "Horse Latitudes" on their Strange Days album, with sound effects created through bottles hitting a trash can and other percussion effects.

See also

Citations

  1. ^ Kemp, Peter. The Oxford Companion to Ships and the Sea, London, Oxford University Press, 1976. pp. 233, 399
  2. ^ The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, Sixth Edition. New York: Columbia University Press, 2003

References

  • The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, Sixth Edition. New York: Columbia University Press, 2003.

http://www.infoplease.com/encyclopedia/weather/horse-latitudes.html

This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and USA.gov, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for USA.gov and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
 
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
 
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.
 


Copyright © World Library Foundation. All rights reserved. eBooks from Project Gutenberg are sponsored by the World Library Foundation,
a 501c(4) Member's Support Non-Profit Organization, and is NOT affiliated with any governmental agency or department.