Stephen Vermette, climatologist and professor of geography and planning, was interviewed by the Investigative Post for a recent article discussing Buffalo’s record-high average temperature in 2012. Vermette said that, while temperatures measurements will always fluctuate, “the big picture shows a slow, upward climb.”
On another topic, Vermette commented on the lengthening days. December 21 was the shortest day of the year, with 9 hours and one minute of daylight. However, the earliest sunset took place on December 11, when it set at 4:41 p.m. By the solstice on December 21, the sun was already setting later—4:44 p.m. A month later, on January 11, the sunset occurred at 5:03 p.m. That’s a full 22 minutes more of sunlight.
However, the day itself, measured from sunrise to sunset, is only 16 minutes longer. That’s because the sunrise was occurring later. “In other words,” said Vermette, “how you perceive the length of the day depends on how you measure it. If you judge day length by your morning commute, the morning is actually darker for a couple of weeks after the solstice. However, if you judge day length by your evening commute, the sun has been setting later since December 11. So the perceived length of day may depend on whether you are a morning person or an evening person.”