Tag Archives: climate

Authors Answer 109 – Seasonal Writing

Winter is coming. I’m not talking about A Game of Thrones. The seasons are changing. Weather and seasons can affect what people do and how they do them. But can seasons affect writing? That’s what we talk about this time.

img_3296Question 109: How do seasons and weather affect your writing?

H. Anthe Davis

I’ve spent the majority of my series in either autumn or winter (mostly winter now), so it’s not so much that the seasons affect my writing as that my writing affects my perceived season.  I live in the desert, okay, so it’s never actually winter here — not as I knew it when I lived in New England — but the story has kept New England-style winter trapped in my head for several years now, to the point that I actually forgot what season it was while I was talking to my boss once in October.  I’ve gotten seasonally displaced like that a few times, just in my mind — I don’t walk around in winter clothes in July or anything.  But if you asked me what season it was off-the-cuff, while I was distracted, I might blurt that out no matter the month.

C E Aylett

Massively, actually. I get most of my writing done in winter. I live in a really rural area, jobs are seasonal, and not a great deal happens in the darker months because most people live out in country lanes and don’t want to drive 10kms to get to a bar (which they can’t guarantee will even be open). And it’s just too cosy in front of the wood burners! But I love it. When I get fixed on a project it’s all I want to do. Plus no one nags me to get out and get some sunlight as it rains so much and so heavily, so I’m practically hibernated.

In the summer I get nothing done on writing projects. The world and his wife arrive to their holiday homes, family and friends come to visit, there’s an event going on every other day and a million invites to dinner. Not least, the kids are off school for a whole two months — ten weeks some years! I get quite grrrowly that I can’t write, even though it’s something I should anticipate by now. I keep up with my editorial commitments at The Colored Lens, though.

I should have a ‘Beware of the Writer’ sign up in my front window, and a scalped crocodile’s skull to back it up. Basically, for the safety of the public, I need a camper van so I can drive off somewhere quiet. I’m working on that plan. Seriously.

Beth Aman

It depends.  Sometimes, summer or Christmas break means I have tons of time (and motivation) to write.  Other times they seem to mess me up.  Really, it just comes down to me being committed to my story and making time to write.  Or my story being loud enough in my head that I have to write it whether I’ve made time or not.

D. T. Nova

I definitely write better in the summer, and think that whoever decided that NaNoWriMo should be November (which is often the most stressful month) made a mistake.

Despite barely being able to see light from outside from where I write, I still write better when it’s sunny, though there’s no impact if it’s just cloudy or raining for the day. Extended periods without sunlight are what weaken my ability to get motivated.

Eric Wood

The seasons don’t really affect my writing. Other than I might write more in the winter when it’s cold and dark.

Jean Davis

In the few weeks of spring and summer when the weather is nice, I just want to be outside. That means I don’t get much writing done. But as far as the dark of winter or rainy days, weather doesn’t affect me. My writing room doesn’t have windows so it’s always comfortable, sunny creative time in here.

Elizabeth Rhodes

They honestly don’t.  When I was an active participant in NaNo I could really get in to the spirit around autumn.  Now, I can procrastinate all year long.

Paul B. Spence

In oh so many ways. Since I’ve broken most of the bones of the bones in my body more than once each… rainy weather and cold seasons are not my friends. Also, as an archaeologist, I often spend nice days outside working. You can see how this would make writing difficult sometimes.

Cyrus Keith

Well, that’s a hard one to answer, to be honest. I might think that summer gives me a little more freedom to do outdoor things with the family. But once I’m in the Zone, that’s pretty much it, no matter what it’s doing outside.

Gregory S. Close

I think the weather can affect my mood in good or bad ways, which can then have an impact on the style or content of writing.  I wrote a lot of winter scenes while buried under a snowstorm in Boston, but then again – also wrote a lot of the same while living on a tropical island under swaying palm trees.  The experience of the seasons and climates is definitely a plus, though.  Although a lot of writing comes strictly from imagination, having direct experience with tropical storms or blizzards or tornados does hep describe them all with a little added nuance and realism.

Jay Dee Archer

When I lived in Japan, the seasons definitely affected how I wrote. When it was winter, thanks to the poor insulation in typical Japanese apartments, I tended not to write much at all. When I write, I want to be comfortable. I need to be at a comfortable temperature, and I can’t concentrate on writing when I’m cold. I’m able to do a lot more in other seasons. Now that I’m in Canada, and it’s warm inside in winter, the effect should be a lot less.  The main difference is how much privacy I can get. In summer, my daughter’s off from school, so she’s around a lot more.

How about you?

If you write, how do the seasons affect you? If you read, do you read more or less in different seasons or weather? Let us know in the comments below.

 

Clouds of Alberta

I’ve been enjoying looking at the sky recently. The clouds in Alberta are so different than Japan’s clouds. The flat land has a lot to do with it. There are bigger temperature changes, and often more wind. And sometimes, the clouds just look weird.

Last night, the clouds were curly.

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And the sunsets have been interesting. But it was too cloudy last night for much of one, but I saw this:

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What I’m looking forward to this summer are the giant cumulonimbus clouds that come with thunderstorms. They are incredible here.

What are typical clouds like where you live?

The War Against Trees and Phytoplankton

People are always talking about rising carbon dioxide levels, talking about how to reduce emissions, and slow the rise in temperatures and sea levels. But what about increasing the rate of carbon dioxide being taken out of the atmosphere? That’s where trees and phytoplankton come in.

Trees in the sprawling metropolis of Tokyo, near the Imperial Palace.
Trees in the sprawling metropolis of Tokyo, near the Imperial Palace.

There’s a problem, though. It seems that with the rate of deforestation, especially in tropical regions, we’re eroding the Earth’s ability to reduce the greenhouse gas. Trees are also good at taking pollutants out of the air. It’s beneficial to have plants in your home, because they make the air cleaner and fresher. I look around where I live, and I see industrial areas surrounded by trees. But in the residential areas, people live on tiny properties with little to no plant life growing on their properties. It’s all concrete. In areas where people are living, they make them so unappealing to me. I like yards with grass and trees. It’s better for the air, too.

Trees are wonderful, but what about the plant that takes half of the job of removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere? That job goes to phytoplankton, which lives in the oceans. Over the past half century, the number of phytoplankton has actually increased by ten times. Sounds wonderful, and it seems that they’re able to handle an increase in ocean temperatures by about two degrees pretty well. However, with the increase of carbon dioxide, ocean water is acidifying, and that’s bad news for the phytoplankton, as they have chalk-like shells. Those break down in more acidic water. But increase global water temperatures by six degrees, and that’s the breaking point for phytoplankton. They will cease producing oxygen. And this will result in a very quick suffocation of the world’s animal life, including humans.

Oh, that sounds lovely, doesn’t it? This is something that hasn’t really been paid attention to before. While a six degree increase is a lot, and extremely unlikely to happen within our lifetimes, it could happen if left unchecked in our descendants’ lifetimes.

I, for one, do not want our generation’s mistakes to cause suffering to our children’s children’s children. But do people care? I find that there are a lot of people I know who post things on Facebook that are anti-science and claim to refute climate change, yet they have no clue that the things they are posting are written by people who have an agenda. They post articles that are from websites that are completely biased and leave no room for any debate. They pick and choose pieces of evidence, yet they don’t look at the whole picture. It’s a dangerous way of thinking, and I will argue against what they are saying. I dislike misinformation. They do it for the sake of local jobs and the economy. I’m far more concerned about my daughter’s future in a world that has more and more extreme weather, rising sea levels, and rising temperatures.

I wish it were an easy fix, such as planting more trees. More trees would help, but not enough. At least it would help slow the increase, even if it is a small amount.

What are your thoughts about this whole debate? I’d like to hear your opinions in the comments below.

Axial Tilt, Latitude and Other Planet Details

I’ve already done posts about this before, but it’s nice to see another point of view. And this one has some really nice maps!

The War of Memory Project

It’s been a while since I did a worldbuilding post.  This one will be thin, because I just have a few points of data rather than anything particularly visual or interesting, but my friend Chris and I spent most of today batting planetary details back and forth, trying to figure out some of the specs of my world.

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Is It Hot? Daily Weather Photos

It’s a hot day today. At only 9 am it was already in the high 20s. Such is the nature of Japanese summer. Why am I talking about the weather?

If you’re like me, I’m fascinated by the weather. Three years ago, I started a daily photo project called 365 Rotations. For one year, I took photos everyday, and also kept track of the weather. When that project finished, I started keeping track of weekly weather with more detail. While I haven’t updated the past year’s weather (I will), I have still kept track of it on my phone. But on July 10th, I started up daily photos again. This time, they’re in different locations and focus on the weather for that day. You may see sunsets, too. So go on over to 365 Rotations and follow if you enjoy photography or weather.

Fascinated by Powerful Weather

Japan is a country that gets a lot of typhoons. I tend to go through about three every summer and fall. Sometimes more. Already had one this spring, which is strange.  In Canada, I was treated to multiple thunderstorms a week.  They’re not long, but they tend to come around in July the most. This kind of weather scares a lot of people.

Not me. When a thunderstorm comes, I want to watch. When a typhoon comes, I want to go outside and see how strong the wind and rain are. I am absolutely fascinated by this kind of weather. I love a good thunderstorm.

People find it strange when I mention that I actually enjoy typhoons and thunderstorms. I even find earthquakes interesting to go through. I went through a huge one four years ago, and whenever they hit now, I’m always interested in feeling it. What does this say about me?

I feel a somewhat scientific detachment from these phenomena. I observe with the mindset of a scientist. I like to know what’s going on, and I understand very well how these things happen. I also understand the risks involved, and how to keep myself safe. And I always unplug my computer during a thunderstorm.

It’s not just thunderstorms and typhoons I enjoy. I also like seeing blizzards or snowstorms. Last year, we had a couple big snow storms here, which is quite unusual. The Tokyo area is unprepared for heavy snow. The snow that we get here is very wet and heavy, and it’s extremely slippery and difficult to drive through. In this case, I enjoy watching other people try to cope with it. What’s funny is that one day that I was walking to the station because of no buses, a Brazilian woman came up to me and asked me in Japanese to take her picture with her phone. She wanted to show people the snow.

How do you feel about extreme weather?

What to Do With a Dormant Blog

Many of you may know that I run several blogs. This one is the most active, while my Japan blog has only occasional updates at the moment (I will get back to work on it, though).  But there’s one I haven’t updated in quite some time that I’d like to give new life to.

That blog is 365 Rotations. Originally, it was an experiment to take a photo in the same locations every day (or every week) for a year to keep track of the seasonal changes, and eventually make videos to show this. I haven’t actually done that. I’ve taken all the photos, I just haven’t organised them yet. Another thing I’d been doing is keeping track of the daily weather. And that’s where my idea comes in.

You see, I’ve been keeping track of the weather on my phone since my last post. I’ll eventually post them all, and do monthly stats, comparing them from year to year.  I’ll have three years of weather stats by the time we move to Canada, where I’ll start taking weather stats as well.  But my idea is to also do a photo of the day. I’d focus on the day’s weather, like clouds, sunset, storm, lightning, snow, and so on. I’d like to get it started in July, but first, I need to clear up the memory on my phone. Too many photos and videos! So, look forward to more updates coming on that blog soon!

World-Building: Climate and Weather

Having a map of your world is great.  But now you need to know what the climate and weather are like.  Is it a hot world, a cold world, or is it just like the Earth?  You have a lot of choices.  This can be fun to do, but it can also be a lot of work, depending on how detailed you want to be.

Making a Climate Map

So, you have your map ready, all of the shorelines, rivers, lakes, and mountains drawn.  What do you do next?  Well, you need to know what kind of climate each area has.  You can do it simply, if you like.  If we look at a simple method, let’s assume that the world is similar to Earth.  At the equator, you’ll have tropical rainforest.  Moving north and south, you’ll then have savanna, then desert or semi-arid environments.  North and south of that, you’ll get into a more Mediterranean type climate, which is dry, mostly grassland, but temperate.  Then you get the temperate forests.  Moving even farther from the equator, you find boreal forests, tundra, and finally ice caps.  This is a very simplistic look at it.  It’s much more complex.

Let’s take a look at the Koppen climate classification system, which can be very useful when determining your world’s climate zones.  I’ll look at the zones briefly, but you can check out the Wikipedia page for more detailed information.  There are five climate groups.  Each group has more specialised climates.

First are the tropical/megathermal climates.  These are wet climates. The main types here are tropical rainforest (rainy all year, no seasonal variation), tropical monsoon (seasonal wind changes resulting in rainy and dry months), savanna (this has a very dry season).

Next we have the dry climates. There are two main types here, the desert climate (the driest) and the steppe climate (not as dry, but still semi-arid).

Third, we have temperate/mesothermal climates.  These climates generally have warm to hot summers and cool to mild winters.  The main types are dry-summer subtropical or mediterranean climate (hot and dry summers and rainy winters, western coast), humid subtropical climate (hot and humid, rainy summers and dry winters, eastern coast), maritime temperate or oceanic climate (changeable weather with lots of clouds and wet weather, cool summers and mild winters, western coast), temperate highland tropical climate (dry winters and rainy summers, located at higher altitudes), maritime subarctic or subpolar oceanic climate (confined to coastal strips or islands, generally colder than maritime temperate/oceanic), dry-summer maritime subalpine climate (very rare zone, highland areas near the coast where the ocean prevents the winter from dropping below -3 degrees Celsius).

Fourth, we have continental/microthermal climates. Basically, summers are warmer, winters are very cold.  For this, we have hot summer continental climate (hot summers, sometimes dry, sometimes wet), warm summer continental or hemiboreal climate (very simply, summers are warm, winters are cold), continental subarctic or boreal climate (pretty far north, mild summers, very cold winters), and continental subarctic with extremely cold winters (-38 degrees or colder in winter, only in Siberia).

Finally, we have polar and alpine climates.  These occur at the poles or high up in mountains.  The two types are tundra climates (warmest month is between 0 and 10 degrees Celsius) and ice cap climates (all twelve months are below 0 degrees Celsius).

Kamakura, Japan. This is in the humid subtropical climate zone. Hot and humid summers with monsoon season and mild, dry winters.
Kamakura, Japan. This is in the humid subtropical climate zone. Hot and humid summers with monsoon season and mild, dry winters.

Of course, you don’t have to be this detailed, but this is a good guide for how to determine your world’s climate zones.

But what if your world isn’t like Earth?  Let’s look at three types of worlds briefly.

First is the dry world.  Most likely, you’ll use arid and semi-arid climates.  However, you may have pockets of wetter climate zones around bodies of water.  The closer you get to the poles, the climate may change from desert to tundra gradually.  And then you may also have to have a more temperate desert in between.  This requires you to create new types of climates.

Second is the wet world.  Your world may be covered by rainforests.  If you have large continents with mountains, I’d probably expect there’d be some dry areas, but not too extensive.  The farther you get from the equator, your world may go from tropical rainforest to savanna to temperate rainforest to boreal forest.  You might not even have to deal with subarctic or polar climates.

Finally is the oddball of the bunch.  A tidally locked planet with a red dwarf star.  I’ve discussed this before in the second part of the worldbuilding series.  The side that faces the star is incredibly hot and uninhabitable.  The side that faces away from the star is incredibly cold and is likely a permanent ice cap.  The habitable area is along the terminator.  This is where we have some trouble determining what the climate may be like.  It’s probably quite windy, as winds would be howling from the hot side to the cold side of the planet.  But let’s say it’s not so bad.  Basically, you’d go from desert to tropical to temperate to subarctic and to polar in a very short distance.  It’s very unlikely there’ll be any great oceans to moderate temperatures, so it’ll be mostly continental.  However, no day/night extremes, no seasonal extremes, just the same every day.  Mountains would likely get plenty of rain.

There are other factors to consider, as well.  One is the axial tilt of your world.  More extreme tilts would make more extreme seasons.  No tilt would mean no seasons.

What I did

After I drew my world map, I traced it out onto another sheet of paper and started colouring in the climate zones as best as I could.  This was long before Wikipedia existed, and I didn’t think to even search the Internet for climate zones, let alone Koppen climate classification.  So, I just did the best I could.  I made this map:

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Pretty crude look, isn’t it?  I have desert in yellow, tundra (and ice cap) in white, tropical forest in emerald green, temperate forest in a darker green, grassland in pink, marsh/wetlands in orange, and mountains in brown.  This has more to do with vegetation, but it basically is a climate map with the exception of marsh (that’s a habitat, not a climate).  What you’ll notice is the vast tropical forests, large grasslands and rather limited amount of desert.  You see, Ariadne is in a humid period, though it does have polar caps.

Even though I have created that map, I’d like to redo it with the Koppen climate classification system in mind.  It would be more scientifically accurate, and not a simplistic as this.

So, what should you do about climate on your world?  It’s up to you.  Make it as complex as you want, or keep it simple.  I love complexity, as you probably already know.  Enjoy mapmaking!

For more posts on worldbuilding, please check out this page.

Weather in Writing

It’s a snowy day here in Japan, only the second time this year it’s snowed a significant amount.  Probably the last, too.  The normally sunny winter has become a very cloudy and snowy one, and that creates a completely different atmosphere outside.  Weather can set the mood in books, too.

Starting a book with the line, “It was a dark and stormy night,” is quite cliche now, but when it was originally written, it probably set the mood. It’s an important part of any novel that involves outdoor settings.  But do we really need an ominous and dark day to be stormy?  Can’t we have a frightening scene on a beautiful sunny day? I’m sure we can.

In world-building, we create new worlds which will also require weather and climate.  For Ariadne, I created an entire planet with a variety of climates around the world.  There are four main continents.  The southern continent is mostly a polar climate with a colder temperate region, as well.  The largest continent extends from the far north to the far south and has everything including arctic, temperate, alpine, desert, humid rainforest, and so on.

The other two continents are smaller.  The northern one is mostly temperate and arctic, but also has a warmer region.  The equatorial continent is mostly tropical.

On Ariadne, the weather will help me create the atmosphere for different regions as I explore the world.  The original colony will be a warm, subtropical grassland with a risk of cyclonic storms.  The second colony will be in a tropical rainforest with plenty of rain. I’m excited to make this world come alive.

If you write, do you pay attention to the weather a lot?  And when you read, do you imagine the weather as its described, or is it often forgotten?  Leave a comment!