Sunday, June 21, 2009

Summer Solstice in Germany

This morning at 5:45 UTC was this year's summer solstice: On its annual apparent path across the celestial globe, the Sun has reached its northernmost point. In the northern hemisphere, today is the day of year with the longest period of daylight.

Unfortunately, here in Germany we cannot really enjoy it - it has been grey and rainy most of the time. Here is an interesting view of Germany today, an animation of the pattern of rainfall over three hours in the early evening:


Colours show precipitation from radar data, coded from light blue for a slight drizzle to magenta for heavy rain. There is a counter-clockwise rotating vortex of clouds, typical for a zone of slight low-pressure, sitting just over Germany. I hope it won't stay there for the rest of the summer.


  1. It rained most of today here in my neck of the woods in NJ. In fact, it seems like there has not been a sunny day all of May and so far in June.

    In nearby New York City:

    (visit for a nice photograph)

    "We may be years away from a true understanding of the psychological effects of the rain that has fallen for 15 of the first 19 days of June. It is too soon to know whether humans will adapt to living, in effect, in an alternate universe in which water has replaced air."

  2. We had a very nice day. Could be some degrees warmer though.

  3. It's been grey here in London too. I always wondered as a kid why June wasn't on average the hottest month of the year.

    You'd expect on average the solstice to be the time of maximum temperature in the year for that hemisphere, the heating being proportional to the duration of daylight.

    However, August is on average the warmest month. A simple guess is that this is due to the low thermal conductivity and high specific heat capacity of the ground, which causes a lag due to the time taken to heat up, and tends to store heat like a storage heater. Although water has a higher effective thermal transmission (since it is a fluid and permits convection currents) than ground, it has a high specific heat capacity and retains energy even more effectively than the ground because water molecules strongly absorb infrared radiation. So possibly the ocean and land take a couple of months to heat up to produce a maximum temperature? Or are there other significant effects at work, like the motion of air and water masses from the other hemisphere (in which seasons are reversed) over the equator?

  4. Hi Nige,

    Yes, I too would think it's due to the air temperature adjusting with a time-delay.

    Since I complained this morning about the temperature, today it's been noticeably warmer and indeed for the middle of the week it supposed to reach 30°!



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  6. Hi Nige and Bee,

    From the reading I’ve done the oceans are the largest influence (greatest heat sink) involved in this delay, coupled with the angle of incidence being most close to vertical, resulting in more absorption and less reflection of the sun’s radiation. Despite it now only beginning to get warmer we have reached the longest of the days as you of course know, with them now steadily shortening until reaching the minimum again with the winter solstice. In addition, not resultant of being a global warming critic, yet only as an observation, I would say to those climatologists as Ricky Ricardo said to Lucille Ball “You got sum splaining ta do” :-)



  7. Hello,
    of cours the sea water is very
    predominant as a heat store globally
    regarding "climate", and for the
    British it is main reason for the
    the moist thing they call whether.
    The more You look on the continents,
    especially the tremendous asian mass,
    the more the storage effect of rock and soil
    is the important thing.
    When we have the finest and most durable summer in Germany,
    it is due to a continental high
    pressure zone in Russia wich gives
    us eastern, hot and dry winds.
    Some years that can last for weeks,
    some years it does not happen at all. :=)
    @Phil: could You please translate
    Even my "Dictionary of American Slang" did not help.

  8. Hi Georg,

    Splaining meaning simply explaining.



  9. Yesterday/today the whether changed to that
    "typical" summer scheme.
    There is a high pressure region
    in Karelia and we get warm an dry
    winds from Russia.
    I hope this will last for some days,
    although that means I have to activate
    the well and pump for irrigation
    of my lawn.


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