Meteorological Seasons Defined: The relationship between temperature and seasons

Weather Glossary

Astronomical seasons are the most widely known. They fall on specific days of the year defining changes in earth’s alignment with the sun, but did you know there are meteorological seasons too? 

Meteorological seasons are defined by meteorologists and climatologists based on annual temperature cycles and our calendar throughout the year. The seasons themselves are broken down into 4 groups consisting of 3 months in each group.

The start of each meteorological season begins on the first day of the month containing the solstice or equinox.

Here’s how they work:

Meteorological spring consists of March, April and May beginning on March 1st and ending on May 31st.

Meteorological summer consists of June, July and August beginning on June 1st and ending on August 31st.

Meteorological fall consists of September, October and November beginning on September 1st and and ending on November 30th.

Meteorological winter consists of December, January and February beginning on December 1st and ending on February 28th (*29th on a leap year).

Why do we have meteorological seasons?

Having established “seasons” based on temperatures within their prospective months helps scientists keep track of weather statistics and other information regarding temperature patterns that are useful for both farmers and agriculture in a much more simplistic way. It’s also useful for climate scientists who are trying to understand and group together certain times of the year that include certain temperature patterns. 

It’s also a good way to simplify the seasons into the “warmest” and “coolest” months of the year.

Did you know that places such as Australia and New Zealand use the meteorological definition to define their seasons? Their official start to fall begins regardless of the earth’s alignment to the sun on September 1st. However, there are many countries around the world that use both definitions, just like us!

The image below is a good way to compare the astronomical seasons to meteorological. It even includes both the northern and southern hemisphere.

Image courtesy: deepgreenpermaculture.com

So while astronomical fall doesn’t begin until around the end of the month, meteorologists and climatologists alike have already considered the start of each month the beginning of the new season here in our part of the world.

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