Seoul’s Steamy Summer (Updated)

By Matt Stiles | | Topics: South Korea, Weather

Note: I followed my wife, a foreign correspondent for NPR News, to Seoul last year. This is one of a series of posts exploring our adopted country’s demographics, politics and other nerdy data stuff. Let me know if you have ideas for future posts.

I’ve been away from Seoul for much of the summer, but now that I’m back it’s impossible not to hear all the complaining — among expats and locals alike — about the heat.

They have a point, at least in terms of their expectations. This summer has indeed been hotter than usual, especially this month, when the daily low temperature on one recent day actually exceeded the average high. (I updated the chart on Aug. 24).

Historically, the air begins cooling slightly in August. Not so this year…

Are People in Colder Countries Taller? (Continued…)

By Matt Stiles | | Topics: Demographics, Weather

Earlier this week I posted two scatterplots examining the relationship between a country’s average temperature and its male residents’ average height. The data show some correlation, but there probably are several of other factors affecting height as well.

The earlier plots shaded the country dots by income and region, allowing more context about the groupings of countries (hint: Europe is colder and taller).

This next version, however, proportionally sizes the dots by population, adding another layer of context (or perhaps unnecessary complexity).

Are People in Colder Countries Taller?

By Matt Stiles | | Topics: Demographics, Weather

I got married in Amsterdam. One thing I remember most about my time in The Netherlands is the obvious height of the locals. Both men and women, generally, are quite tall.

A new study supports my anecdotal observation. Dutch men are the tallest people in the world (women there are second), followed closely by some of their European neighbors. People in Southeast Asian and African countries are, on the other hand, shorter.

I’ve always wondered why the Dutch are so tall. Is it their dairy-rich diet, perhaps? Or could there be a correlation between the lower average temperatures in Northern Europe and its apparent height advantage? Are people taller in colder countries?

The answer is … sort of.

Someday I’ll Say Goodbye to Seoul. I Might Miss the Weather.

By Matt Stiles | | Topics: South Korea, Weather

Note: I followed my wife, a foreign correspondent for NPR News, to Seoul last year. This is one of a series of posts exploring our adopted country’s demographics, politics and other nerdy data stuff. Let me know if you have ideas for future posts.

I’ve been in Seoul just over a year, and I can’t stay here forever, so I’m starting to think seriously about the next city. For me, a key consideration is weather (and, you know, work and kids’ schools and such).

Seoul’s been pretty great, especially the relatively mild summers. But what can I expect from the next town? Here are the average monthly temperatures for the likely contenders. Some are warmer than others:

weather

Or maybe one of these 269 places?

Data source: NOAA Comparative Climate Data

Charting a Sky-High Electricity Bill

By Matt Stiles | | Topics: South Korea, Weather

What of the biggest surprises about moving to Seoul, South Korea — aside from the impenetrable language and other cultural adjustments — was the pricey cost of electricity.

The monthly power bills in our high-rise apartment, which doesn’t have western-style central air conditioning, have been shockingly expensive — and not just in the summer months.

In the past year the bills have totaled nearly 8 million won, or about $6,500, for power. The building also adds on a host of fees, from common-area electricity charges to trash collection. Those have totaled an additional 5 million won, or $4,000. Ouch.

Seoul is relatively mild during the summer, much like Washington, D.C., but it still gets sticky from June through August. So we ran the ceiling air units in each room a lot. Way too much, apparently.

Here’s a chart for the energy portion of bill, which spiked markedly as summer temperatures last year began to rise.

Map: Where Zika-Carrying Mosquitoes Might Appear in the United States

By Matt Stiles | | Topics: Demographics, Weather

U.S. Health officials are investigating the possibility that the Zika virus could be spread through sex, The New York Times reports.

If confirmed, this development could seriously complicate efforts to control the spread of the disease, which health officials suspect causes birth defects in children whose mothers were infected during pregnancy.

The disease has spread in Brazil and other tropical climates, primarily through mosquito bites, including those by a species that thrives in the southern and western United States: aedes aegypti. It’s still winter in the United States, but some are readying for the day when the airborne pests move the disease north.

Still, experts believe a widespread outbreak across the United States is unlikely. They note that the mosquitoes only thrive in tropical areas, and that the prevalence of air conditioning, window screens and the expected abatement efforts by local governmental agencies will reduce their threat.

The mosquitoes’ habitat may seem small geographically compared the country as a whole, but it does includes about one in five American counties. They are home to roughly 80 million people, according to a Daily Viz analysis of data released by the mapping company Esri and the U.S. Census Bureau.

The rough map below shows the species’ habitat (shaded in pink) and its respective counties’ population density (red dots represent 50,000 residents). The area includes roughly 29 million households — some of which, of course, will include pregnant women this summer.

Aedes Aegypti habitat in the United States.

Aedes Aegypti habitat in the United States. Credit: Matt Stiles/The Daily Viz.

DC, Seoul Share Similar Climate — Until The Summer Rains Come

By Matt Stiles | | Topics: South Korea, Uncategorized, Weather

As I noted yesterday, we can expect similar weather here in Seoul as we experienced in Washington, D.C., where we lived until earlier this month. The two capital cities are located about the same distance from the Equator, along the 38th parallel north.

We’ll be in for something different this summer, however. That’s when the rains come. On average, Seoul gets about 35 inches of rain during July and August alone. To put that in perspective, our former home city, Austin, receives about the same amount annually. Seoul gets more rain in these months than most major cities in the American West, in fact.

Compare Austin, Seoul and Washington, D.C., in this chart:

The number of days with some rain also spikes a bit during the Seoul summer. Again, compare the cities:

How’s The Weather In Seoul? Pretty Temperate. (Sorry, Austin Friends)

By Matt Stiles | | Topics: South Korea, Weather

Note: My family recently relocated to Seoul, where my wife is working as a foreign correspondent for NPR. This post is the first in an occasional series profiling the peninsula’s demographics and politics (and occasionally weather).

I enjoy Austin, and I still consider it “home,” even after moving to Washington, D.C., and, now, Seoul. But one of my top complaints about the Texas capital is the blazing summer heat. And by “summer” I mean March to October, essentially. In 2011, the year we left, there were 69 days in which the high temperature reached triple digits — only tying a record.

So, yes, I’ve enjoyed D.C.’s relatively temperate weather, despite the occasional winter snow or those few sticky days in August. But I wasn’t sure what to expect in Seoul, other than I suspected the winters were chilly. Turns out the temperatures are much like those in D.C., which makes sense because both cities are near the 38th north parallel above the Equator.

These simple charts show the average high and low temperatures in each place:

Tomorrow, I’ll chart the average number of rainy days — and the average monthly rainfall totals — in each place. Hint: Summer is the rainy season in Seoul.

Sources: WorldWeatherOnline.com (average temps.); Highcharts JS (charting library); ColorBrewer (color palette).

D.C.’s Snowy Winter (Ugh, In One Chart)

By Matt Stiles | | Topics: Weather

It’s been a bit more wintry in Washington, D.C., this winter. More so than usual, as one might guess from today’s snowfall.

The average annual snowfall total in the last three decades, according to the National Weather Service, is about 15 inches. This year we’ve received about 26 inches (and counting, as I look out the window). Last year, though, we received only about 3 inches of snow.

Clearly, this is a strange year. Here’s a chart of snowfall totals by month over time. This February and March were unusual:

DC snow

Mapping ‘Your Warming World’

By Matt Stiles | | Topics: Weather

New Scientist has published a fascinating interactive map related to increasing global temperatures over time:

The graphs and maps all show changes relative to average temperatures for the three decades from 1951 to 1980, the earliest period for which there was sufficiently good coverage for comparison. This gives a consistent view of climate change across the globe. To put these numbers in context, the NASA team estimates that the global average temperature for the 1951-1980 baseline period was about 14 °C.

Users can change the map, made by Chris Amico and Peter Aldhous, by time period and see an interactive chart with time series data. Here’s the global view for the last two decades:

Screen Shot 2013-01-15 at 2.32.37 PM

And users can also zoom to their location (and the time series chart changes):

Screen Shot 2013-01-15 at 2.32.50 PM