Anna Answers: Why does meteorological summer occur on June 1st rather than the solstice?

Weather Wisdom

Question: Why does meteorological summer occur on June 1st rather than the solstice?

The solstice is based off of the astronomical seasons. The astronomical seasons were created based on the rotation of Earth around the sun because of that we have two equinoxes (Vernal and Autumnal) and two solstices (Summer and Winter).

There are variations in the season lengths and season start date on the astronomical calendar because of factors such as leap years and the elliptical orbit of the Earth. The variations in both the season length and season start date vary one year to another and make it difficult to compare climate statistics from one year to another and one season to another. That is why meteorological seasons were created.

Meteorological seasons are based on both the calendar and the annual cycle of temperature and are broken down into four groupings of three months each. In the Northern Hemisphere meteorological spring is March, April, and May; meteorological summer is June, July, and August; meteorological fall is September, October, and November; and meteorological winter is December, January, and February.

The start of the meteorological seasons is the first day of the month for the grouping. For example. summer starts on June 1st because summer includes June, July and August. By dividing the seasons into three month sets it makes it easier to calculate and compare seasonal statistics from both one year to the next and one season to the next. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration states these statistics are useful for “agriculture, commerce, and a variety of other purposes.” Meteorologists also use the statistics for a variety of purpose including average high and low temperatures for each day.

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