03 August, 2013

Climate is a matter of perception

I had an interesting Facebook exchange a few days ago with a Japan colleague from Glasgow in Scotland. It started with our impressions about the Tokyo "rainy" season. Neither of us are that impressed with it.

But delve a little deeper and a Scot feels that Tokyo is quite dry, a Queenslander feels it is quite wet.

So I went looking at some climate statistics and I've made up some charts to show you how different these climates actual are.

Sorry to all my American friends, these stats are in metric and Celcius.
It is amazing how wrong perceptions can be. Tokyo is wetter than Glasgow, but has a lot less rainy days. Glasgow sounds cold and gloomy to this Australian.

Another astounding thing (that we knew) is the winter temperature differences. Brisbane is warmer in it's coldest month than Glasgow is in its hottest!

There are other interesting things to compare too, like average temperatures and less intuitively important things like UV. Britain rarely has a UV rating of 8, whereas that, or above, is the average in for the majority of Australia for the whole year.

The humidity stats are eye opening also. Glasgow (and all of the UK, I believe) has humid winters and dry summers. Tokyo and Brisbane are the opposite. Brisbane is considered in Queensland to have humid summers, but they don't, at least not compared to Tokyo!

So back to my original question: is Tokyo's "rainy season" really correctly termed? According to the American Meterological Society:
Rainy Season is defined as thus:
(Also called wet season.) In certain types of climate, an annually recurring period of one or more months during which precipitation is a maximum for that region; the opposite of dry season.
You'll see in the green graph above that there are two peaks in the precipitation line. The highest is in September-October, but that is not what they call the official "Rainy Season" in Japan. Mysterious! I know that there is a difference in the weather systems. The September-October peak is mostly due to typhoons dropping rain on Japan. But is it justified calling the June peak our "rainy season"?

To draw this back to missionary-related topic: Can you see how challenging it could be to adapt to a different climate? Tokyo is miserably cold for this Queensland family. It is miserably hot and humid for our Scottish colleagues. We don't often think about climate when praying for missionaries. Perhaps we should.


MOM2_4 said...

Very interesting. I wonder how Niigata would figure into the equation?

Wendy said...

MOM2_4, I got most of this information from Wikipedia. They have fairly standardised climate stats for most cities, so you can have a look. I took a brief look and it seems as thought Niigata City is about as hot, but colder than Tokyo. It gets less precipitation.