The Planet's Engine Room
The heat that drives our Climate
It's late September and I'm here on a particularly significant day. For thousands of years human beings have tracked and celebrated the progress of the sun. This spectacular plateau was once the sacred place of an ancient culture called the Quitos, who came from this region.
Today is especially significant in understanding why the equator plays such an important role in the Earth's climate system. It's noon on September the 23rd, the autumn equinox.
The midday sun is overhead on the equator on the equinox because of the Earth's tilt. After this September equinox, the path of the midday sun travels south until December, before tracking back for the next equinox and then into the northern hemisphere to bring summer there.
Kate on the Ecuador Highland Plateau
Which means, throughout the year, the equatorial regions receive more of the sun's heat than anywhere else. This has a profound effect on the Earth's climate.
The heat of the equatorial region is the engine room for the world's climate. A system of wind starts here that dictates the climate across the whole of our planet and that is all controlled by the spin of the Earth.
To find out how it works, I need to leave these beautiful highlands and head down into the rainforest.