Sunny? Cloudy? Raining? How fascinating!

Sunny? Cloudy? Raining? How fascinating!

What is it about the weather in Singapore that makes it so fascinating?

If you get a funny look when asking this question, it's probably also sunny or cloudy or raining.

Or all three depending on which part of the day it is.

So, the weather here is so predictable you wish we had the four seasons?

That's a view borne out of ignorance.

It's time to change this attitude because not only is the weather as interesting as anywhere else in the world, knowing it is also the first step to understanding its importance to our future.

But the reality is that even though there has been much discussion in recent years about climate change and the dire consequences that might follow, interest in the weather has been as dry as the recent drought.

Ask anyone here and chances are, many can't tell the difference between a Sumatran squall and a north-east monsoon surge.

Or between cumulonimbus and altostratus. (Hint: Think clouds.)

As for climate change, it is too riddled with the confusing science of carbon emissions and ozone reactions.

This lack of interest and the accompanying ignorance are a shame because weather and climate are such a large part of our lives and so immediately felt, it's like not knowing your own body.

And it is of such a wondrous nature - alive and changing, noisy and colourful - too complex to know completely, yet so fundamental to our lives that only a fool would not want to know it.

Our farming and hunting forefathers knew better, or they would have died starving.

City dwellers think they can do without the knowledge but they will regret this in time.

So, what's so interesting about the Singapore weather?

Did you know that the monsoon rains we get in November and December originate from what's happening in Siberia?

It starts to get really cold there and, as the entire Asian continent cools during the northern winter period, a high pressure region develops.

As a result, the air moves towards the warmer seas in the south, such as the South China Sea, picking up moisture along the way and dumping it onto our part of the world.

There are other monsoon rains that develop in a similar way in west Africa and the south-west United States but none are as spectacular as what we get here.

That's because these winds move from the largest land mass in the world (the Euro-Asia continent) to the largest body of water (the Indo-Pacific ocean).

The rain they bring is the reason large swathes of humanity were able to settle in Asia, and so began modern civilisation.

Singapore is smack in the middle of this watery deluge.

It is also in the middle of two bands of high pressure regions, 30 degrees north and south of the equator, that give rise to what are often called the trade winds because they were used by sailing ships in the past to cross the big oceans, opening up trade routes between countries.

How can we not know about the mysterious winds when they bring not only the rain but also the ships, and Singapore's reason for existence?

If you want to know more, read an excellent publication produced by the Meteorological Service Singapore, The Weather And Climate Of Singapore, from which I obtained much of the information for this piece.

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