Horse latitudes

:"This article refers to the geographical area. For other uses, see Horse latitudes (disambiguation)"

Horsey latitudes or Subtropical High are subtropic latitudes between 30 and 35 degrees both north and south. This region, under a ridge of high pressure called the subtropical ridge, is an area which receives little precipitation and has variable winds mixed with calm.

A common misconception is that the name derives from the apocryphal 17th century practice of throwing a ship's horses overboard during a prolonged calm in order to conserve water. This is unlikely; fresh horse meat would have been highly desirable compared to ship's rations (usually salted meat) and eating any livestock onboard instead of rations would actually help conserve water, as fresh water was needed to make the salt pork or beef (ironically referred to as "salt horse") edible.

The term probably came from the "dead horse" ritual, a practice in which the seaman would parade a straw-stuffed effigy of a horse around the deck before throwing it overboard. Seamen were often paid partly in advance before a long voyage (see Beating a dead horse), and the "dead horse" was this period of time (usually a month or two). The ceremony was to celebrate having worked off the "dead horse" debt. As European west bound shipping would reach the subtropics at about the time the "dead horse" was worked off, the region became associated with the ceremony. [Kemp, Peter. The Oxford Companion to Ships and the Sea.:):):) Oxford University Press: London, 1976. p233, 399.]

The consistently warm, dry conditions of the horse latitudes also contribute to the existence of temperate 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.

ee also

*Atmospheric circulation
*Circle of latitude
*Horse Latitudes (book)
*Horse Latitudes (The Doors song)
*Intertropical convergence zone
*Subtropical ridge


* The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, Sixth Edition. Columbia University Press., 2003.

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • Horse latitudes — Horse Horse (h[^o]rs), n. [AS. hors; akin to OS. hros, D. & OHG. ros, G. ross, Icel. hross; and perh. to L. currere to run, E. course, current Cf. {Walrus}.] 1. (Zo[ o]l.) A hoofed quadruped of the genus {Equus}; especially, the domestic horse… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Horse Latitudes — Chanson par The Doors extrait de l’album Strange Days Sortie 25 septembre 1967 Durée 1:35 Genre Rock expérimental Parolier …   Wikipédia en Français

  • horse latitudes — ► PLURAL NOUN ▪ a belt of calm air and sea occurring in both the northern and southern hemispheres between the trade winds and the westerlies. ORIGIN origin uncertain …   English terms dictionary

  • horse latitudes — n. [said to be so named because sailing vessels transporting horses to the West Indies often had to throw horses overboard because of water shortages resulting from delays while becalmed] either of two belts over the oceans at c. 30° 35° north… …   English World dictionary

  • horse latitudes — horse′ lat′itudes n. pl. mer the latitudes, approximately 30° N and forming the edges of the trade wind belt, characterized by high atmospheric pressure with calms and light variable winds • Etymology: 1765–75; prob. as trans. of Sp golfo de las… …   From formal English to slang

  • horse latitudes — the latitudes, approximately 30° N and S, forming the edges of the trade wind belt, characterized by high atmospheric pressure with calms and light variable winds. [1765 75; prob. as trans. of Sp golfo de las yeguas lit., mares sea; explanation… …   Universalium

  • horse latitudes — /ˈhɔs lætətjudz/ (say haws latuhtyoohdz) plural noun belts of northern and southern latitudes lying between the region of westerly winds and the region of the trade winds, marked by light baffling winds and occasional calms …   Australian English dictionary

  • horse latitudes — noun plural Date: 1777 either of two belts or regions in the neighborhood of 30° N and 30° S latitude characterized by high pressure, calms, and light variable winds …   New Collegiate Dictionary

  • horse latitudes — Synonyms and related words: Antarctic Zone, Arctic Circle, Arctic Zone, Frigid Zones, Torrid Zone, Tropic of Cancer, Tropic of Capricorn, Variable Zones, anticyclone, antitrades, calm, climate, clime, dead calm, deathlike calm, doldrums, equator …   Moby Thesaurus

  • Horse Latitudes — belts of calms about 30 or 35 degrees north or south of Equator; horses were cast overboard in these places when sailing vessels were becalmed and drinking water became scarce …   Eponyms, nicknames, and geographical games

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