Climate Change in the Philippines!

A Sunday Solar Event.

You are probably asking yourself, “Did I miss something?” Is the climate changing in the Philippines? Yes, It usually does!  Because it is another scorching afternoon here in the Philippines, this post could be more aptly named A Sunday Scorcher, but that doesn’t have a very pleasant connotation to it. Besides, “climate change” always seems to grab the headlines these days anyway. For anyone who might live in the Philippines or who has ever visited the Philippines during the months of April or May, you well know how hot it can be. On average, these months are the hottest months of the year across the archipelago, and today being May 1st, the heat is right on schedule. It was also hot during this past April here in Samar, and here is the reason.

Angle of Insolation based upon position related to the sun

Angle of Insolation based upon position related to the sun

 

Because the Earth remains tilted as it revolves around the sun, different locations on the Earth receive different amounts of solar radiation at different times of the year. The amount of solar radiation received by the Earth is called insolation. The “angle of insolation” is the angle at which the sun’s rays strike a particular location on Earth. In our case in the Philippines (or any place on Earth at this same latitude), April and May receive the most direct and perpendicular solar radiation (90 degrees sun angle). In other words, the sun’s rays come straight at us at this latitude. When the calendar reaches June 21st, the sun is most perpendicular (90 degrees) at the Tropic of Cancer (23.5 degrees north latitude). After that date, the Earth at our latitude begins its rotational move in the opposite direction, moving away from the sun and the intensity of the sun’s solar radiation begins decreasing.

 

Summer Solstice

Summer Solstice

Because the Philippines spans the latitudes between 6 degrees and 18 degrees north, we get the most direct rays from the sun just prior to the northern hemisphere’s closest approach to the sun when the sun’s most direct angle is on the Tropic of Cancer. This is when the Philippines is at its closest proximity (distance wise) to the sun. While climbing our local mountain last week, I explained to my niece that the reason it was so hot up on the mountain is because we were closer to the sun. After she thought about it for a few seconds, she understood the rationale, but knew I was joking.

Rain is in the Forecast!

Here in the Philippines, while it has been hot, it has also been extremely dry because El Niño has been dominating our weather for some time now. However, most experts claim that El Niño appears to be on the way out, and are expecting another climate phenomenon to be coming soon. A group of researchers, including the U.S.’s National Weather Service, issued a La Niña watch a few weeks ago in its monthly report updating El Nino’s status. A watch is issued when conditions are favorable for the development of La Niña in the next six months. As predicted, the El Niño of 2016 turned out to rank in the top three strongest El Niños since 1950, according to the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).We have observed some barangays in the Calbayog district to have very little or no water pressure. Some area that do not have city supplied water have noticed a significant drop in the water table. Many wells are just not producing at normal levels. My friend mentioned last week that a fire truck delivered potable water to their baranagay for the people to replenish with. In our location we have been very fortunate as our city water supply has not been affected. I can still hit the kids across the road with my water hose!

In any case, it has been so hot here that I have heard the chickens are laying hard boiled eggs. And all El Niños and El Niñas aside, the folks here in the Philippines are ready for some rain. And in just a few more months, all the complaints of being too hot and not having any rain will once again turn to discussions about too much rain, flooding problems, and the occasional tropical storm or typhoon. And when it does eventually happen, let’s make sure we all refer to it as “climate change.” Because here in the Philippines, we all know it happens every 6 months. I know… I monitor it myself with our electric bill!

Want to know a little bit about living with the opposite extremes (wet weather)?
Check out my previous post “Life in the Western Pacific and in Typhoon Alley.”

 

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