Season

Last updated

A season is a division of the year [1] marked by changes in weather, ecology, and amount of daylight. On Earth, seasons result from Earth's orbit around the Sun and Earth's axial tilt relative to the ecliptic plane. [2] [3] In temperate and polar regions, the seasons are marked by changes in the intensity of sunlight that reaches the Earth's surface, variations of which may cause animals to undergo hibernation or to migrate, and plants to be dormant. Various cultures define the number and nature of seasons based on regional variations.

Weather Short-term state of the atmosphere

Weather is the state of the atmosphere, describing for example the degree to which it is hot or cold, wet or dry, calm or stormy, clear or cloudy. Most weather phenomena occur in the lowest level of the atmosphere, the troposphere, just below the stratosphere. Weather refers to day-to-day temperature and precipitation activity, whereas climate is the term for the averaging of atmospheric conditions over longer periods of time. When used without qualification, "weather" is generally understood to mean the weather of Earth.

Ecology Scientific study of the relationships between living organisms and their environment

Ecology is the branch of biology which studies the interactions among organisms and their environment. Objects of study include interactions of organisms that include biotic and abiotic components of their environment. Topics of interest include the biodiversity, distribution, biomass, and populations of organisms, as well as cooperation and competition within and between species. Ecosystems are dynamically interacting systems of organisms, the communities they make up, and the non-living components of their environment. Ecosystem processes, such as primary production, pedogenesis, nutrient cycling, and niche construction, regulate the flux of energy and matter through an environment. These processes are sustained by organisms with specific life history traits. Biodiversity means the varieties of species, genes, and ecosystems, enhances certain ecosystem services.

Daylight combination of all direct and indirect sunlight outdoors during the daytime

Daylight is the combination of all direct and indirect sunlight during the daytime. This includes direct sunlight, diffuse sky radiation, and (often) both of these reflected by the Earth and terrestrial objects, like landforms and buildings. Sunlight scattered or reflected by objects in outer space is generally not considered daylight. Thus, daylight excludes moonlight, despite it being indirect sunlight. Daytime is the period of time each day when daylight occurs. Daylight happens as Earth rotates, and either side on which the Sun shines is considered daylight.

Contents

During May, June, and July, the Northern Hemisphere is exposed to more direct sunlight because the hemisphere faces the Sun. The same is true of the Southern Hemisphere in November, December, and January. It is Earth's axial tilt that causes the Sun to be higher in the sky during the summer months, which increases the solar flux. However, due to seasonal lag, June, July, and August are the warmest months in the Northern Hemisphere while December, January, and February are the warmest months in the Southern Hemisphere.

Northern Hemisphere half of Earth that is north of the equator

The Northern Hemisphere is the half of Earth that is north of the Equator. For other planets in the Solar System, north is defined as being in the same celestial hemisphere relative to the invariable plane of the solar system as Earth's North Pole.

Southern Hemisphere part of Earth that lies south of the equator

The Southern Hemisphere is the half of Earth that is south of the Equator. It contains all or parts of five continents, four oceans and most of the Pacific Islands in Oceania. Its surface is 80.9% water, compared with 60.7% water in the case of the Northern Hemisphere, and it contains 32.7% of Earth's land.

A month is a unit of time, used with calendars, which is approximately as long as a natural period related to the motion of the Moon; month and Moon are cognates. The traditional concept arose with the cycle of Moon phases; such months (lunations) are synodic months and last approximately 29.53 days. From excavated tally sticks, researchers have deduced that people counted days in relation to the Moon's phases as early as the Paleolithic age. Synodic months, based on the Moon's orbital period with respect to the Earth-Sun line, are still the basis of many calendars today, and are used to divide the year.

In temperate and subpolar regions, four seasons based on the Gregorian calendar are generally recognized: spring , summer , autumn or fall, and winter . The definition of seasons is also cultural. In India from the ancient times, six seasons or Ritu based on south Asian religious or cultural calendars are recognised and identified even today for the purposes such as agriculture and trade. Ecologists often use a six-season model for temperate climate regions which are not tied to any fixed calendar dates: prevernal, vernal, estival, serotinal, autumnal, and hibernal. Many tropical regions have two seasons: the rainy , wet , or monsoon season and the dry season . Some have a third cool, mild, or harmattan season. Seasons often held special significance for agrarian societies, whose lives revolved around planting and harvest times, and the change of seasons was often attended by ritual.

The Gregorian calendar is the calendar used in most of the world. It is named after Pope Gregory XIII, who introduced it in October 1582. The calendar spaces leap years to make the average year 365.2425 days long, approximating the 365.2422-day tropical year that is determined by the Earth's revolution around the Sun. The rule for leap years is:

Every year that is exactly divisible by four is a leap year, except for years that are exactly divisible by 100, but these centurial years are leap years if they are exactly divisible by 400. For example, the years 1700, 1800, and 1900 are not leap years, but the year 2000 is.

Spring (season) one of the Earths four temperate seasons, occurring between winter and summer

Spring is one of the four temperate seasons, following winter and preceding summer. There are various technical definitions of spring, but local usage of the term varies according to local climate, cultures and customs. When it is spring in the Northern Hemisphere, it is autumn in the Southern Hemisphere and vice versa. At the spring equinox, days and nights are approximately twelve hours long, with day length increasing and night length decreasing as the season progresses.

Summer one of the Earths four temperate seasons, occurring between spring and autumn

Summer is the hottest of the four temperate seasons, falling after spring and before autumn. At the summer solstice, the days are longest and the nights are shortest, with day length decreasing as the season progresses after the solstice. The date of the beginning of summer varies according to climate, tradition, and culture. When it is summer in the Northern Hemisphere, it is winter in the Southern Hemisphere, and vice versa.

In some parts of the world, some other "seasons" capture the timing of important ecological events such as hurricane season , tornado season , and wildfire season.[ citation needed ] The most historically important of these are the three seasons— flood , growth , and low water —which were previously defined by the former annual flooding of the Nile in Egypt.

Atlantic hurricane season tropical cyclone season

The Atlantic hurricane season is the period in a year when hurricanes usually form in the Atlantic Ocean. Tropical cyclones in the North Atlantic are called hurricanes, tropical storms, or tropical depressions. In addition, there have been several storms over the years that have not been fully tropical and are categorized as subtropical depressions and subtropical storms. Even though subtropical storms and subtropical depressions are not technically as strong as tropical cyclones, the damages can still be devastating.

Wildfire uncontrolled fire in an area of combustible vegetation that occurs in the countryside or a wilderness area

A wildfire or wildland fire is an uncontrolled fire in an area of combustible vegetation occurring in rural areas. Depending on the type of vegetation present, a wildfire can also be classified more specifically as a brush fire, bushfire, desert fire, forest fire, grass fire, hill fire, peat fire, vegetation fire, or veld fire.

Tropical dry season MatheranPanoramaPointDrySeason.JPG
Tropical dry season
Tropical wet season/monsoon MatheranPanoramaPointMonsoon.JPG
Tropical wet season/monsoon

Causes and effects

Axial tilt

Illumination of Earth at each change of astronomical season Seasonearth.png
Illumination of Earth at each change of astronomical season
Fig. 1
This diagram shows how the tilt of Earth's axis aligns with incoming sunlight around the winter solstice of the Northern Hemisphere. Regardless of the time of day (i.e. the Earth's rotation on its axis), the North Pole will be dark, and the South Pole will be illuminated; see also arctic winter. In addition to the density of incident light, the dissipation of light in the atmosphere is greater when it falls at a shallow angle. Seasons.svg
Fig. 1
This diagram shows how the tilt of Earth's axis aligns with incoming sunlight around the winter solstice of the Northern Hemisphere. Regardless of the time of day (i.e. the Earth's rotation on its axis), the North Pole will be dark, and the South Pole will be illuminated; see also arctic winter. In addition to the density of incident light, the dissipation of light in the atmosphere is greater when it falls at a shallow angle.

The seasons result from the Earth's axis of rotation being tilted with respect to its orbital plane by an angle of approximately 23.4 degrees. [4] (This tilt is also known as "obliquity of the ecliptic".)

Orbital plane (astronomy) geometrical plane in which an orbit lies

The orbital plane of a revolving body is the geometric plane in which its orbit lies. Three non-collinear points in space suffice to determine an orbital plane. A common example would be the positions of the centers of a massive body (host) and of an orbiting celestial body at two different times/points of its orbit.

Degree (angle) angle unit; π/180 radians

A degree, usually denoted by °, is a measurement of a plane angle, defined so that a full rotation is 360 degrees.

Ecliptic apparent path of the Sun on the celestial sphere

The ecliptic is the mean plane of the apparent path in the Earth's sky that the Sun follows over the course of one year; it is the basis of the ecliptic coordinate system. This plane of reference is coplanar with Earth's orbit around the Sun. The ecliptic is not normally noticeable from Earth's surface because the planet's rotation carries the observer through the daily cycles of sunrise and sunset, which obscure the Sun's apparent motion against the background of stars during the year.

Four temperate and subpolar seasons
Winter, Spring
Summer, Autumn/Fall Baume Jahreszeit 2013.jpg
Four temperate and subpolar seasons
Winter, Spring
Summer, Autumn/Fall

Regardless of the time of year, the northern and southern hemispheres always experience opposite seasons. This is because during summer or winter, one part of the planet is more directly exposed to the rays of the Sun (see Fig. 1) than the other, and this exposure alternates as the Earth revolves in its orbit. For approximately half of the year (from around March 20 to around September 22), the Northern Hemisphere tips toward the Sun, with the maximum amount occurring on about June 21. For the other half of the year, the same happens, but in the Southern Hemisphere instead of the Northern, with the maximum around December 21. The two instants when the Sun is directly overhead at the Equator are the equinoxes. Also at that moment, both the North Pole and the South Pole of the Earth are just on the terminator, and hence day and night are equally divided between the two hemispheres. Around the March equinox, the Northern Hemisphere will be experiencing spring as the hours of daylight increase, and the Southern Hemisphere is experiencing autumn as daylight hours shorten.

Winter one of the Earths four temperate seasons, occurring between autumn and spring

Winter is the coldest season of the year in polar and temperate zones. It occurs after autumn and before spring in each year. Winter is caused by the axis of the Earth in that hemisphere being oriented away from the Sun. Different cultures define different dates as the start of winter, and some use a definition based on weather. When it is winter in the Northern Hemisphere, it is summer in the Southern Hemisphere, and vice versa. In many regions, winter is associated with snow and freezing temperatures. The moment of winter solstice is when the Sun's elevation with respect to the North or South Pole is at its most negative value. The day on which this occurs has the shortest day and the longest night, with day length increasing and night length decreasing as the season progresses after the solstice. The earliest sunset and latest sunrise dates outside the polar regions differ from the date of the winter solstice, however, and these depend on latitude, due to the variation in the solar day throughout the year caused by the Earth's elliptical orbit.

Equator Intersection of a spheres surface with the plane perpendicular to the spheres axis of rotation and midway between the poles

An equator of a rotating spheroid is its zeroth circle of latitude (parallel). It is the imaginary line on the spheroid, equidistant from its poles, dividing it into northern and southern hemispheres. In other words, it is the intersection of the spheroid with the plane perpendicular to its axis of rotation and midway between its geographical poles.

Equinox astronomical event where the Sun is directly above the Earths equator

An equinox is commonly regarded as the instant of time when the plane of Earth's equator passes through the center of the Sun. This occurs twice each year: around 20 March and 23 September. In other words, it is the moment at which the center of the visible Sun is directly above the Equator.

The effect of axial tilt is observable as the change in day length and altitude of the Sun at solar noon (the Sun's culmination) during the year. The low angle of Sun during the winter months means that incoming rays of solar radiation are spread over a larger area of the Earth's surface, so the light received is more indirect and of lower intensity. Between this effect and the shorter daylight hours, the axial tilt of the Earth accounts for most of the seasonal variation in climate in both hemispheres.

Elliptical Earth orbit

Compared to axial tilt, other factors contribute little to seasonal temperature changes. The seasons are not the result of the variation in Earth's distance to the Sun because of its elliptical orbit. [5] In fact, Earth reaches perihelion (the point in its orbit closest to the Sun) in January, and it reaches aphelion (the point farthest from the Sun) in July, so the slight contribution of orbital eccentricity opposes the temperature trends of the seasons in the Northern Hemisphere. [6] In general, the effect of orbital eccentricity on Earth's seasons is a 7% variation in sunlight received.

Orbital eccentricity can influence temperatures, but on Earth, this effect is small and is more than counteracted by other factors; research shows that the Earth as a whole is actually slightly warmer when farther from the sun. This is because the Northern Hemisphere has more land than the Southern, and land warms more readily than sea. [6] Any noticeable intensification of southern winters and summers due to Earth's elliptical orbit is mitigated by the abundance of water in the Southern Hemisphere. [7]

Maritime and hemispheric

Seasonal weather fluctuations (changes) also depend on factors such as proximity to oceans or other large bodies of water, currents in those oceans, El Niño/ENSO and other oceanic cycles, and prevailing winds.

In the temperate and polar regions, seasons are marked by changes in the amount of sunlight, which in turn often causes cycles of dormancy in plants and hibernation in animals. These effects vary with latitude and with proximity to bodies of water. For example, the South Pole is in the middle of the continent of Antarctica and therefore a considerable distance from the moderating influence of the southern oceans. The North Pole is in the Arctic Ocean, and thus its temperature extremes are buffered by the water. The result is that the South Pole is consistently colder during the southern winter than the North Pole during the northern winter.

The seasonal cycle in the polar and temperate zones of one hemisphere is opposite to that of the other. When it is summer in the Northern Hemisphere, it is winter in the Southern, and vice versa.

Tropics

The tropical and subtropical regions see little annual fluctuation of sunlight. However, seasonal shifts occur along a rainy, low-pressure belt called the Intertropical Convergence Zone (ICZ). As a result, the amount of precipitation tends to vary more dramatically than the average temperature. When the Zone is north of the Equator, the northern tropics experience their wet season while the southern tropics have their dry season. This pattern reverses when the Zone migrates to a position south of the Equator.

Mid-latitude thermal lag

In meteorological terms, the solstices (the maximum and minimum insolation) do not fall in the middles of summer and winter. The heights of these seasons occur up to 7 weeks later because of seasonal lag. Seasons, though, are not always defined in meteorological terms.

In astronomical reckoning by hours of daylight alone, the solstices and equinoxes are in the middle of the respective seasons. Because of seasonal lag due to thermal absorption and release by the oceans, regions with a continental climate, which predominate in the Northern Hemisphere, often consider these four dates to be the start of the seasons as in the diagram, with the cross-quarter days considered seasonal midpoints. The length of these seasons is not uniform because of Earth's elliptical orbit and its different speeds along that orbit. [8]

Four-season calendar reckoning

Calendar-based reckoning defines the seasons in absolute rather than relative terms. Accordingly, if floral activity is regularly observed during the coolest quarter of the year in a particular area, it is still considered winter despite the traditional association of flowers with spring and summer. Additionally, the seasons are considered to change on the same dates everywhere that uses a particular calendar method regardless of variations in climate from one area to another. Most calendar-based methods use a four-season model to identify the warmest and coldest seasons, which are separated by two intermediate seasons.

Meteorological

Animation of seasonal differences especially snow cover through the year BlueMarble monthlies animation.gif
Animation of seasonal differences especially snow cover through the year

Meteorological seasons are reckoned by temperature, with summer being the hottest quarter of the year and winter the coldest quarter of the year. In 1780 the Societas Meteorologica Palatina (which became defunct in 1795), an early international organization for meteorology, defined seasons as groupings of three whole months as identified by the Gregorian calendar. Ever since, professional meteorologists all over the world have used this definition. [9] Therefore, for temperate areas in the northern hemisphere, spring begins on 1 March, summer on 1 June, autumn on 1 September, and winter on 1 December. For the southern hemisphere temperate zone, spring begins on 1 September, summer on 1 December, autumn on 1 March, and winter on 1 June. [10] [11] In Australasia the meteorological terms for seasons apply to the temperate zone that occupies all of New Zealand, New South Wales, Victoria, Tasmania, the south-eastern corner of South Australia and the south-west of Western Australia, and the south east Queensland areas south of Brisbane.

Meteorological temperate seasons
Northern hemisphereSouthern hemisphereStart dateEnd date
Winter Summer 1 December28 February [12]
Spring Autumn 1 March31 May
Summer Winter 1 June31 August
Autumn Spring 1 September30 November

In Sweden and Finland, meteorologists use a non-calendar based definition for the seasons based on the temperature. Spring begins when the daily averaged temperature permanently rises above 0 °C, summer begins when the temperature permanently rises above +10 °C, summer ends when the temperature permanently falls below +10 °C and winter begins when the temperature permanently falls below 0 °C. "Permanently" here means that the daily averaged temperature has remained above or below the limit for seven consecutive days. This implies two things: first, the seasons do not begin at fixed dates but must be determined by observation and are known only after the fact; and second, a new season begins at different dates in different parts of the country. In Great Britain, the onset of spring used to be defined as when the maximum daily temperature reached 50 °F (10 °C) in a defined sequence of days. This almost always occurred in March. However, with global warming this temperature is now not uncommon in the winter.

Surface air temperature
Diagram was calculated (Abscisse: 21. of each month)
Calculation based on data published by Jones et al. Surface air temperature global.jpg
Diagram was calculated (Abscisse: 21. of each month)
Calculation based on data published by Jones et al.
The picture shows Figure 7 as published by Jones et al. Jones et al. Surface air temperature.jpg
The picture shows Figure 7 as published by Jones et al.

Astronomical

UT date and time of
equinoxes and solstices on Earth [14] [15]
event equinox solstice equinox solstice
monthMarchJuneSeptemberDecember
year
daytimedaytimedaytimedaytime
20142016:572110:512302:292123:03
20152022:452116:382308:212204:48
20162004:302022:342214:212110:44
20172010:282104:242220:022116:28
20182016:152110:072301:542122:23
20192021:582115:542307:502204:19
20202003:502021:442213:312110:02
20212009:372103:322219:212115:59
20222015:332109:142301:042121:48
20232021:242114:582306:502203:27
20242003:072020:512212:442109:20

Astronomical timing as the basis for designating the temperate seasons dates back at least to the Julian calendar used by the ancient Romans. It continues to be used on many modern Gregorian calendars worldwide, although some countries like Australia, New Zealand, Pakistan and Russia prefer to use meteorological reckoning. The precise timing of the seasons is determined by the exact times of transit of the sun over the tropics of Cancer and Capricorn for the solstices and the times of the sun's transit over the equator for the equinoxes, or a traditional date close to these times. [16]

The following diagram shows the relation between the line of solstice and the line of apsides of Earth's elliptical orbit. The orbital ellipse (with eccentricity exaggerated for effect) goes through each of the six Earth images, which are sequentially the perihelion (periapsis—nearest point to the sun) on anywhere from 2 January to 5 January, the point of March equinox on 19, 20 or 21 March, the point of June solstice on 20 or 21 June, the aphelion (apoapsis—farthest point from the sun) on anywhere from 4 July to 7 July, the September equinox on 22 or 23 September, and the December solstice on 21 or 22 December.

Note: Distances are exaggerated and not to scale Seasons1.svg
Note: Distances are exaggerated and not to scale

These "astronomical" seasons are not of equal length, because of the elliptical nature of the orbit of the Earth, as discovered by Johannes Kepler. From the March equinox it currently takes 92.75 days until the June solstice, then 93.65 days until the September equinox, 89.85 days until the December solstice and finally 88.99 days until the March equinox.

Variation due to calendar misalignment

The times of the equinoxes and solstices are not fixed with respect to the modern Gregorian calendar, but fall about six hours later every year, amounting to one full day in four years. They are reset by the occurrence of a leap year. The Gregorian calendar is designed to keep the March equinox no later than 21 March as accurately as is practical. Also see: Gregorian calendar seasonal error.

The calendar equinox (used in the calculation of Easter) is 21 March, the same date as in the Easter tables current at the time of the Council of Nicaea in AD 325. The calendar is therefore framed to prevent the astronomical equinox wandering onto 22 March. From Nicaea to the date of the reform, the years 500, 600, 700, 900, 1000, 1100, 1300, 1400 and 1500, which would not have been leap years in the Gregorian calendar, amount to nine days, but astronomers directed that ten days be removed.

Currently, the most common equinox and solstice dates are March 20, June 21, September 22 or 23 and December 21; the four-year average slowly shifts to earlier times as the century progresses. This shift is a full day in about 128 years (compensated mainly by the century "leap year" rules of the Gregorian calendar) and as 2000 was a leap year the current shift has been progressing since the beginning of the last century, when equinoxes and solstices were relatively late. This also means that in many years of the twentieth century, the dates of March 21, June 22, September 23 and December 22 were much more common, so older books teach (and older people may still remember) these dates.

Note that all the times are given in UTC (roughly speaking, the time at Greenwich, ignoring British Summer Time). People living farther to the east (Asia and Australia), whose local times are in advance, will see the astronomical seasons apparently start later; for example, in Tonga (UTC+13), an equinox occurred on September 24, 1999, a date which will not crop up again until 2103. On the other hand, people living far to the west (America) whose clocks run behind UTC may experience an equinox as early as March 19.

Change over time

Over thousands of years, the Earth's axial tilt and orbital eccentricity vary (see Milankovitch cycles). The equinoxes and solstices move westward relative to the stars while the perihelion and aphelion move eastward. Thus, ten thousand years from now Earth's northern winter will occur at aphelion and northern summer at perihelion. The severity of seasonal change — the average temperature difference between summer and winter in location — will also change over time because the Earth's axial tilt fluctuates between 22.1 and 24.5 degrees.

Smaller irregularities in the times are caused by perturbations of the Moon and the other planets.

Solar

The annual cycle of insolation (Sun energy, shown in blue) with key points for seasons (middle), quarter days (top) and cross-quarter days (bottom) along with months (lower) and Zodiac houses (upper). The cycle of temperature (shown in pink) is delayed by seasonal lag. Phases of the Sun (NHemi).png
The annual cycle of insolation (Sun energy, shown in blue) with key points for seasons (middle), quarter days (top) and cross-quarter days (bottom) along with months (lower) and Zodiac houses (upper). The cycle of temperature (shown in pink) is delayed by seasonal lag.

Solar timing is based on insolation in which the solstices and equinoxes are seen as the midpoints of the seasons. It was the method for reckoning seasons in medieval Europe, especially by the Celts, and is still ceremonially observed in Ireland and some East Asian countries. Summer is defined as the quarter of the year with the greatest insolation and winter as the quarter with the least.

The solar seasons change at the cross-quarter days, which are about 3–4 weeks earlier than the meteorological seasons and 6–7 weeks earlier than seasons starting at equinoxes and solstices. Thus, the day of greatest insolation is designated "midsummer" as noted in William Shakespeare's play A Midsummer Night's Dream , which is set on the summer solstice. On the Celtic calendar, the start of the seasons corresponds to four Pagan agricultural festivals - the traditional first day of winter is 1 November (Samhain, the Celtic origin of Halloween); spring starts 1 February (Imbolc, the Celtic origin of Groundhog Day); summer begins 1 May (Beltane, the Celtic origin of May Day); the first day of autumn is 1 August (Celtic Lughnasadh).

The traditional calendar in China forms the basis of other such systems in East Asia. Its seasons are traditionally based on 24 periods known as solar terms. [17] The four seasons chūn ( ), xià ( ), qiū ( ), and dōng ( ) are universally translated as "spring", "summer", "autumn", and "winter" but actually begin much earlier, with the solstices and equinoxes forming the midpoint of each season rather than their start. Astronomically, the seasons are said to begin on Lichun ( 立春 , lit. "standing spring") on about 4 February, Lixia ( 立夏 ) on about 6 May, Liqiu ( 立秋 ) on about 8 August, and Lidong ( 立冬 ) on about 7 November. These dates were not part of the traditional lunar calendar, however, and moveable holidays such as Chinese New Year and the Mid-Autumn Festival are more closely associated with the seasons.

Six-season calendar reckoning

Some calendars in south Asia use a six-season method where the number of seasons between summer and winter can number from one to three. The dates are fixed at even intervals of months.

In the Hindu calendar of tropical and subtropical India, there are six seasons or Ritu that are calendar-based in the sense of having fixed dates: Vasanta (spring), Greeshma (summer), Varsha (monsoon), Sharad (autumn), Hemanta (early winter), and Shishira (prevernal or late winter). The six seasons are ascribed to two months each of the twelve months in the Hindu calendar. The rough correspondences are:

Hindu seasonStartEndHindu MonthsMapping to English Names
Vasanta Mid-MarchMid-May Chaitra, Vaishakha spring
GreeshmaMid-MayMid-July Jyeshtha, Ashadha summer
VarshaMid-JulyMid-September Shraavana, Bhadrapada monsoon
SharadMid-SeptemberMid-November Ashwin, Kartika autumn
HemantaMid-NovemberMid-January Maargashirsha, Pausha early winter
ShishiraMid-JanuaryMid-March Magh, Phalguna prevernal or late winter

The Bengali Calendar is similar but differs in start and end times. It has the following seasons or ritu:

Bengali seasonStartEndBengali MonthsMapping to English Names
Bosonto বসন্ত (ঋতু) (Spring)Mid-FebruaryMid-April Falgun, Choitro Spring
Grishmo (গ্রীষ্ম) (Summer)Mid-AprilMid-June Boishakh, Joishtho Summer
Borsha (বর্ষা) (Monsoon)Mid-JuneMid-August Asharh, Srabon Monsoon
Shorot (শরৎ) (Autumn/ Fall)Mid-AugustMid-October Bhadro, Ashwin Autumn
Hemonto (হেমন্ত) (Frost/ Late Autumn)Mid-OctoberMid-December Kartik, Ogrohayon Late Autumn
Sit (শীত) (Winter)Mid-DecemberMid-February Poush, Magh Winter

The Tamil calendar follows a similar pattern of six seasons

Tamil seasonGregorian MonthsTamil Months
IlaVenil (Spring)April 15 to June 14Chithirai and Vaikasi
MuthuVenil (Summer)June 15 to August 14Aani and Aadi
Kaar (Monsoon)August 15 to October 14Avani and Purattasi
Kulir (Autumn)October 15 to December 14Aipasi and Karthikai
MunPani (Winter)December 15 to February 14Margazhi and Thai
PinPani (Prevernal)February 15 to April 14Maasi and Panguni

"Official" seasons

As noted, a variety of dates and even exact times are used in different countries or regions to mark changes of the calendar seasons. These observances are often declared "official" within their respective jurisdictions by the local or national media, even when the weather or climate is contradictory. [18] However they are mainly a matter of custom only, and have not generally been proclaimed by governments north or south of the equator for civil purposes. [19] [20] In Australia, the Bureau of Meteorology defines Summer as the calendar months December, January, and February, Autumn as March, April, and May, Winter as June, July, and August, and Spring as September, October, and November. [21]

Non-calendar-based reckoning

The six modern mid-latitude ecological seasons.
From bottom, clockwise:
prevernal, vernal, estival, serotinal, autumnal, hibernal Jahreszeiten Jahresringe.jpg
The six modern mid-latitude ecological seasons.
From bottom, clockwise:
prevernal, vernal, estival, serotinal, autumnal, hibernal
Seasonal changes regarding a tree over a year

Ecologically speaking, a season is a period of the year in which only certain types of floral and animal events happen (e.g.: flowers bloom—spring; hedgehogs hibernate—winter). So, if we can observe a change in daily floral/animal events, the season is changing. In this sense, ecological seasons are defined in absolute terms, unlike calendar-based methods in which the seasons are relative. If specific conditions associated with a particular ecological season don't normally occur in a particular region, then that area cannot be said to experience that season on a regular basis.

Modern mid-latitude ecological

Six ecological seasons can be distinguished which do not have fixed calendar-based dates like the meteorological and astronomical seasons. [22] Oceanic regions tend to experience the beginning of the hibernal season up to a month later than continental climates. Conversely, prevernal and vernal seasons begin up to a month earlier near oceanic and coastal areas. For example, prevernal crocus blooms typically appear as early as February in coastal areas of British Columbia, the British Isles, but generally don't appear until March or April in locations like the Midwest USA or parts of eastern Europe. The actual dates for each season vary by climate region and can shift from one year to the next. Average dates listed here are for mild and cool temperate climate zones in the Northern Hemisphere:

Indigenous ecological

Indigenous people in polar, temperate and tropical climates of northern Eurasia, the Americas, Africa, Oceania, and Australia have traditionally defined the seasons ecologically by observing the activity of the plants, animals and weather around them. Each separate tribal group traditionally observes different seasons determined according to local criteria that can vary from the hibernation of polar bears on the arctic tundras to the growing seasons of plants in the tropical rainforests. In Australia, some tribes have up to eight seasons in a year, [10] as do the Sami people in Scandinavia. Many indigenous people who no longer live directly off the land in traditional often nomadic styles, now observe modern methods of seasonal reckoning according to what is customary in their particular country or region.

The Noongar people of South-West Western Australia recognise maar-keyen bonar, [23] or six seasons. Each season's arrival is heralded not by a calendar date, but by environmental factors [24] such as changing winds, flowering plants, temperature and migration patterns and lasts approximately two standard calendar months. The seasons also correlate to aspects of the human condition, intrinsically linking the lives of the people to the world that surrounds them and also dictating their movements, as with each season, various parts of country would be visited which were particularly abundant or safe from the elements. [25]

Noongar seasonApproximate MonthsCultural Parallel
Birak (First Summer)December to JanuarySeason of the Young
Bunuru (Second Summer)February to MarchSeason of Adolescence
Djeran (Autumn)April to MaySeason of Adulthood
Makuru (The First Rains)June to JulyFertility Season
Djilba (The Second Rains)August to SeptemberSeason of Conception
Kambarang (Wildflower Season)October to NovemberSeason of Birth

The timing and feel of the seasons has been noted as having changed due to the current trends in climate change.

The North American Cree and possibly other Algonquian speaking peoples used or still use a 6 season system. The extra two seasons denoting the freezing and breaking up of the ice on rivers and lakes. [26]

Cree seasonApproximate monthsEnglish translation
PiponJan/FebWinter
SekwunMar/AprBreak-up
MithoskuminMay/JunSpring
NepinJul/AugSummer
TukwakinSep/OctAutumn
MikiskawNov/DecFreeze-up

Tropical

Wet and dry seasons Diamond Head Hike - Wet & Dry Seasons.jpg
Wet and dry seasons

In the tropics, where seasonal dates also vary, it is more common to speak of the rainy (or wet, or monsoon) season versus the dry season. For example, in Nicaragua the dry season (November to April) is called 'summer' and the rainy season (May to October) is called 'winter', even though it is located in the northern hemisphere. In some tropical areas a three-way division into hot, rainy, and cool season is used. There is no noticeable change in the amount of sunlight at different times of the year. However, many regions (such as the northern Indian ocean) are subject to monsoon rain and wind cycles.

Floral and animal activity variation near the equator depends more on wet/dry cycles than seasonal temperature variations, with different species flowering (or emerging from cocoons) at specific times before, during, or after the monsoon season. Thus, the tropics are characterized by numerous "mini-seasons" within the larger seasonal blocks of time.

In the tropical parts of Australia in the northern parts of Queensland, Western Australia and the Northern Territory, wet and dry seasons are observed in addition to or in place of temperate season names. [27]

Meteorological Tropical seasons
Northern HemisphereSouthern HemisphereStart dateEnd date
Dry season Wet season 1 October31 March
Wet season Dry season 1 April30 September

Polar

Any point north of the Arctic Circle or south of the Antarctic Circle will have one period in the summer called 'polar day' when the sun does not set, and one period in the winter called 'polar night' when the sun does not rise. At progressively higher latitudes, the maximum periods of "midnight sun" and "polar night" are progressively longer.

For example, at the military and weather station Alert located at 82°30′05″N and 62°20′20″W, on the northern tip of Ellesmere Island, Canada (about 450 nautical miles or 830 km from the North Pole), the sun begins to peek above the horizon for minutes per day at the end of February and each day it climbs higher and stays up longer; by 21 March, the sun is up for over 12 hours. On 6 April the sun rises at 0522 UTC and remains above the horizon until it sets below the horizon again on 6 September at 0335 UTC. By October 13 the sun is above the horizon for only 1 hour 30 minutes and on October 14 it does not rise above the horizon at all and remains below the horizon until it rises again on 27 February. [28]

First light comes in late January because the sky has twilight, being a glow on the horizon, for increasing hours each day, for more than a month before the sun first appears with its disc above the horizon. From mid-November to mid-January, there is no twilight.

In the weeks surrounding 21 June, in the northern polar region, the sun is at its highest elevation, appearing to circle the sky there without going below the horizon. Eventually, it does go below the horizon, for progressively longer periods each day until around the middle of October, when it disappears for the last time until the following February. For a few more weeks, "day" is marked by decreasing periods of twilight. Eventually, from mid-November to mid-January, there is no twilight and it is continuously dark. In mid January the first faint wash of twilight briefly touches the horizon (for just minutes per day), and then twilight increases in duration with increasing brightness each day until sunrise at end of February, then on 6 April the sun remains above the horizon until mid October.

See also

Related Research Articles

Autumn one of the Earths four temperate seasons, occurring between summer and winter

Autumn, also known as fall in American English and sometimes in Canadian English, is one of the four temperate seasons. Autumn marks the transition from summer to winter, in September or March, when the duration of daylight becomes noticeably shorter and the temperature cools considerably. One of its main features in temperate climates is the shedding of leaves from deciduous trees.

A solstice is an event occurring when the Sun appears to reach its most northerly or southerly excursion relative to the celestial equator on the celestial sphere. Two solstices occur annually, around June 21 and December 21. The seasons of the year are determined by reference to both the solstices and the equinoxes.

Tropic of Cancer Line of northernmost latitude at which the sun can be directly overhead

The Tropic of Cancer, which is also referred to as the Northern Tropic, is the most northerly circle of latitude on Earth at which the Sun can be directly overhead. This occurs on the June solstice, when the Northern Hemisphere is tilted toward the Sun to its maximum extent. It is currently 23°26′12.4″ (or 23.43677°) north of the Equator.

Joseph Alphonse Adhémar (1797–1862) was a French mathematician. He was the first to suggest that ice ages were controlled by astronomical forces in his 1842 book Revolutions of the Sea.

Earths orbit Earth moving around the Sun

Earth orbits the Sun at an average distance of 149.60 million km, and one complete orbit takes 365.256 days, during which time Earth has traveled 940 million km. Earth's orbit has an eccentricity of 0.0167. Since the Sun constitutes 99.76% of the mass of the Sun–Earth system, the center of the orbit is extremely close to the center of the Sun.

Orbital forcing is the effect on climate of slow changes in the tilt of the Earth's axis and shape of the orbit. These orbital changes change the total amount of sunlight reaching the Earth by up to 25% at mid-latitudes. In this context, the term "forcing" signifies a physical process that affects the Earth's climate.

September equinox the equinox on the earth when the Sun appears to leave the nothern hemisphere and cross the celestial equator

The September equinox is the moment when the Sun appears to cross the celestial equator, heading southward. Due to differences between the calendar year and the tropical year, the September equinox can occur at any time from the 21st to the 24th day of September.

Timekeeping on Mars

Various schemes have been used or proposed for timekeeping on the planet Mars independently of Earth time and calendars.

Astronomy on Mars

In many cases astronomical phenomena viewed from the planet Mars are the same or similar to those seen from Earth but sometimes they can be quite different. For example, because the atmosphere of Mars does not contain an ozone layer, it is also possible to make UV observations from the surface of Mars.

Geographical zone Major regions of the Earths surface demarcated by latitude

The five main latitude regions of the Earth's surface comprise geographical zones, divided by the major circles of latitude. The differences between them relate to climate. They are as follows:

  1. The North frigid zone, between the Arctic Circle 66.5° N and the North Pole 90° N. Covers 4.12% of Earth's surface.
  2. The North temperate zone, between the Tropic of Cancer 23.5° N and the Arctic Circle 66.5° N. Covers 25.99% of Earth's surface.
  3. The Torrid zone, between the Tropic of Cancer 23.5° N and the Tropic of Capricorn 23.5° S. Covers 39.78% of Earth's surface.
  4. The South temperate zone, between the Tropic of Capricorn 23.5° S and the Antarctic Circle 66.5° S. Covers 25.99% of Earth's surface.
  5. The South frigid zone, from Antarctic Circle 66.5° S and the South Pole 90° S. Covers 4.12% of Earth's surface.
Daytime period on any given point of the planets surface during which it experiences natural illumination from sunlight

On Earth, daytime is roughly the period of the day during which any given point in the world experiences natural illumination from especially direct sunlight. Daytime occurs when the Sun appears above the local horizon, that is, anywhere on the globe's hemisphere facing the Sun. During daytime, an observer sees indirect sunlight while in the shade, which includes cloud cover. 'Day' is sometimes used instead of 'daytime', in this case 'day' will mean 'the period of light between dawn and nightfall; the interval from sunrise to sunset', which is synonymous with daytime. However, in this context, in order to be clear "daytime" should be used distinguish it from "day" which typically refers to a 24-hour period.

Summer solstice Astronomical phenomen when Earths axial tilt toward the Sun is a maximum (currently 23.44°)

The summer solstice, also known as midsummer, occurs when one of the Earth's poles has its maximum tilt toward the Sun. It happens twice yearly, once in each hemisphere. For that hemisphere, the summer solstice is when the Sun reaches its highest position in the sky and is the day with the longest period of daylight. At the pole, there is continuous daylight around the summer solstice. On the summer solstice, Earth's maximum axial tilt toward the Sun is 23.44°. Likewise, the Sun's declination from the celestial equator is 23.44°.

Sun path

Sun path, sometimes also called day arc, refers to the daily and seasonal arc-like path that the Sun appears to follow across the sky as the Earth rotates and orbits the Sun. The Sun's path affects the length of daytime experienced and amount of daylight received along a certain latitude during a given season.

December solstice astronomical phenomenon; solstice that occurs each December, typically between the 20th and the 22nd day of the month according to the Gregorian calendar

The December solstice, is the solstice that occurs each December – typically on Dec 21, and can vary ± 1 day according to the Gregorian calendar. In the Northern Hemisphere, the December solstice is the winter solstice, whilst in the Southern Hemisphere it is the summer solstice. It is also known as the southern solstice.

Orbital effects on climate

There are various solar/celestial effects that exist which have an effect on Earth's climate. These effects usually occur in cycles, and primarily include how Earth's obliquity, the eccentricity of Earth's orbit, and the precession of the equinoxes and solstices affect Earth's climate. In addition to these effects, there are also other factors that have an effect on Earth's climate. These other factors include how sun activity affects climate and how celestial phenomena, such as meteors, affect Earth's climate. Some of these factors aren't yet well understood, for instance the ice ages occur on 100,000 year cycles, and it's not completely understood why the various effects with this periodicity have such a strong effect on glaciation.

References

  1. "Definition of SEASON". www.merriam-webster.com. Retrieved 27 April 2018.
  2. Khavrus, V.; Shelevytsky, I. (2010). "Introduction to solar motion geometry on the basis of a simple model". Physics Education. 45 (6): 641–653. Bibcode:2010PhyEd..45..641K. doi:10.1088/0031-9120/45/6/010.
  3. Khavrus, V.; apple, I. (2012). "Geometry and the physics of seasons". Physics Education. 47 (6): 680–692. doi:10.1088/0031-9120/47/6/680.
  4. Cain, Fraiser. "Tilt of the Earth" . Retrieved 2 May 2014.
  5. "Fundamentals of physical geography", PhysicalGeography.net, Ch. 6: Energy and Matter:(h) Earth-Sun Geometry,
  6. 1 2 Phillips, Tony, "The Distant Sun (Strange but True: the Sun is far away on the 4th of July)," Science@NASA, downloaded 24 June 2006
  7. Phillips, Tony. "Earth at Perihelion". Science News. NASA. Retrieved 14 May 2013.
  8. "Astronomy Answers AstronomyAnswerBook: Seasons," Astronomical Institute, Utrecht University, downloaded 1 August 2008
  9. Begin van de lente (Start of Spring), KNMI (Royal Dutch Meteorology Institute), 2009-03-20, archived from the original (Dutch) on 2009-03-27, retrieved 2009-03-20
  10. 1 2 "Australian weather and the seasons". Archived from the original on 2012-10-21. Retrieved 2012-10-22.
  11. "Details - Argentina - Seasons & Climate". www.wildland.com. Retrieved 27 April 2018.
  12. 29th day in leap years.
  13. 1 2 P. D. Jones et al.: Surface Air Temperature and its Changes Over the Past 150 Years, Figure 7 (Seite 24 von 28 der PDF-Datei) Archived 2010-07-16 at the Wayback Machine
  14. United States Naval Observatory (January 4, 2018). "Earth's Seasons and Apsides: Equinoxes, Solstices, Perihelion, and Aphelion" . Retrieved September 18, 2018.
  15. Astro Pixels (February 20, 2018). "Solstices and Equinoxes: 2001 to 2100" . Retrieved December 21, 2018.
  16. "Earth's Seasons". Astronomical Applications Department. The United States Naval Observatory (USNO). September 21, 2015. Retrieved June 23, 2017.
  17. Ross, Kelley L. "The Solar Terms and the Chinese 60 Year Calendar Cycle". friesian.com. Retrieved 2010-12-03.
  18. CBC News Canada (2013). "Canadians brace for a cold spring start". CBC News . Retrieved 2014-10-01.
  19. NPL (2007). "FAQ-Time". NPL. Retrieved 2014-10-01.
  20. How are the dates of the four seasons worked out.
  21. "Climate Glossary - Seasons". Bureau of Meteorology . Government of Australia . Retrieved 15 February 2019.
  22. Michael Allaby (1999). "A Dictionary of Zoology" . Retrieved 2012-05-30.
  23. "Noongar Glossary". Courses.edx.org. Retrieved 2019-03-21.
  24. "Perth's Noongar seasons explain why autumn feels like a second summer". Abc.net.au. 2018-03-16. Retrieved 2019-03-21.
  25. "Kaartdijin Noongar". Noongarculture.org.au. Retrieved 2019-03-21.
  26. "6 Seasons" . Retrieved 2019-02-13.
  27. "Australian weather and the seasons". Australian Government. Archived from the original on 2015-11-04. Retrieved 2016-02-26.
  28. "U.S. Naval Observatory" . Retrieved 27 April 2018.