GREENVILLE, N.C. (WNCT) — The summer season is almost here, so let’s discuss why our seasons change.
Many people believe that during the spring and summer months, the earth is actually closer to the sun, which is why we have warmer weather. That’s actually not true.
Seasons are dependent on two different factors — earth’s tilted axis and its orbit around the sun. Because of the earth’s tilt, each changing season is marked by an equinox or a solstice. A solstice means that one hemisphere is receiving more direct sunlight than the other hemisphere. During an equinox, both the Southern Hemisphere and the Northern Hemisphere have equal amounts of sunlight with equal hours of day and night.
In December, the winter solstice takes place. More direct sunlight is shining on the Southern Hemisphere, and summer is taking place south of the equator while winter is north of the equator. The vernal equinox, which takes place during March, is when both hemispheres are receiving the same out of sunlight.
Fall is seen in the Southern Hemisphere, whereas spring is in the Northern Hemisphere. The summer solstice takes place in late June when more sunlight is seen for the Northern Hemisphere, and for the autumnal equinox, the Southern Hemisphere is starting spring and the Northern Hemisphere is transitioning into fall.
Although Earth is currently tilted at 23.5 degrees, it actually changes throughout a 40,000-year time cycle, ranging from 21.2 degrees to 24.5 degrees. When the earth’s tilt is larger, summers tend to be hotter and winters tend to be cooler.
We are slowly approaching the larger half of the tilted axis range, meaning we will continue to see more extreme weather swings between our seasons.