Determination of Climatological Seasons for the East Coast of the U.S. Using a Air Mass Based Classification
Climate Research, Vol. 8:107-116, 1997

Shouquan Cheng
Department of Geography
The Chinese University of Hong Kong
Shatin, New Territories, Hong Kong

Dr. Laurence S. Kalkstein
Synoptic Climatology Laboratory
Center for Climatic Research
Department of Geography
University of Delaware

This paper discusses the application of a year-round synoptic classification procedure to define climatological seasons based upon the frequency occurrence of seasonal air masses. The classification is developed through air mass 'seed day' identification and discrminant function analysis, and assigns each day to 1 of 18 air mass types for each of 14 stations along die East Coast of the United States. Unlike the 'astronomical' definition of seasons, which divides a year into 4 equal periods, the length of winter ranges from about l 1/2 mo in Miami, Florida to more than 4 mo in Portland, Maine as determined by air mass frequencies. The summer extends more than 5 mo in Florida, while it only lasts 3 mo in Maine. In the mid-Atlantic region, there are 2 longer seasons (summer and winter; about 4 mo each) and 2 shorter seasons (spring and fall; about 2 mo each). The seasonal definition proposed here more closely corresponds to phenological responses than do traditional definitions. The information can be applied to numerous environmental assessment problems, including aruinal demographics and habitat distributions, plant phenology and subsequent pollen release. migration and hibernation patterns, human health and psychological responses to climate, and agricultural planning activities.

Copyright © University of Delaware, 2003 December.
Synoptic Climatology Lab
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