How many seasons are there really?
With the impending approach of Fall, I have been thinking about the seasons. I like rain, crunchy leaves, and pumpkins as much as the next guy, but if you think about it, Fall isn't really a season is it?
Winter is the time of year when the days are getting longer. They keep getting longer until Summer, and then they start getting shorter again. Winter, it so happens, is the season of positive change. The season that begins with an infinitesimal amount of day, and a seemingly infinite night, and through hard work and dedication, Winter turns that long cold night into an incredibly long beautiful day. Winter is the season that takes that day and hands it to Summer who spends the next 6 months fucking it all up, and then Winter is the season who once again must repair the damage Summer has done. There are two seasons, and these, are they. Fall and Spring are merely milestones along the way marking halfway points in this process.
Well, that just doesn't sound right, does it? Winter is the gross nasty season, not Summer! In order to preserve the Corona commercial summer we're used to, it becomes necessary to draw a line halfway through winter and give credit for the better half to "Spring" so that we don't have to admit that Winter has been doing a hell of a good job cleaning up for Summer these past three months. Oh and let's draw a line through Summer too so that this squandering season doesn't have to take any blame when things go sour after a few months.
This arbitrary line drawing seemed like a fools move to me, so I Googled the phrase "There are only two seasons" in order to find other similarly minded people. I stumbled upon an article that agreed with me, but with a caveat. Rather than marking seasons by whether or not the days are getting longer, the author suggests that Summer is a time when the days are longer than night and that winter is the time when nights are longer than days. This solves the "Hey, Summer is supposed to be the good season" issue while also not overcomplicating the way we draw lines for seasons.
I was flying high and spent the next few days teaching others about the truth. The seasons were two, and they were spring and summer. It could be proved by this simple graph, one I drew many times over the next week. It was this hubris that lead me into a conversation with my brother that lead to a dressing down.
Sam quickly realized that my model of the seasons was broken. It only factored in heat from the Sun, completely ignoring that fact that the Earth is a heat sink, absorbing the Sun's energy during the heat of the day, and releasing it in the cooler evening and night. A sine wave made no sense -- if it did, a horizontal line drawn across the graph should cross two points that represent days equal to one another. But the
This sine wave made no sense -- if it did, a horizontal line drawn across the graph should cross two points that represent days equal to one another. But the days of course, are not actually equal in temperature or weather. May 7 and August 5 are about equal distance away from the summer solstice, but they are rarely ever very similar days. In Columbus, OH where I go to school, the historical average high for May 7 is 70 degrees Farenheight. The average high for August 5th is 84, almost 15 degrees higher. For other folks living in similar latitude, you'll recognize these temperatures as pretty typical.
Perhaps then, it is best that we keep track not just of the length of a day, but also of the Earth temperature. If we do this, we will find that we now have 4 zero points instead of 2. The four season model has been restored, and your faith in it has been strengthened.
We can think of Spring as the season where the earth is cold, but the days are long. In Summer, the days are long and the earth is hot. In Fall, the earth is hot but the days are short. And in Winter, the days are short, and the earth is cold.
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