The spring equinox is here and this marks the day when Earth passes through the geometric centre of the Sun’s disk, or in other words, when the Sun is exactly overhead, directly above the equator line.
During this time, Malaysia had been experiencing a few days of unbearably high temperature and ridiculous weather.
Naturally, some suggested the equinox could be the reason as the Sun’s distance from Earth’s equator will be at its shortest and Malaysia which lies in the middle of the Earth’s equator is expected to experience a slight increase in temperature.
Today is equinox day, sun is exactly on equator, the closest distance to us which is just so above the equator.— DengarKata (@dengar_kata) March 20, 2022
However, the Meteorology Department (MET Malaysia) explained that is not the case.
In a tweet, the agency said the equinox does not significantly affect temperature and the nation’s weather.
Sharing an infographic, they explain that this is the time when the time of day and night are evenly split at 12 hours each.
🅴🅺🆄🅸🅽🅾🅺🆂 merupakan fenomena yang berlaku 2 kali setahun iaitu sekitar 𝟮𝟭 𝗠𝗮𝗰 & 𝟮𝟯 𝗦𝗲𝗽𝘁𝗲𝗺𝗯𝗲𝗿 apabila matahari berada tegak di ats garisan Khatulistiwa.— Jabatan Meteorologi Malaysia (@metmalaysia) March 19, 2022
☀️ Ekuinoks TIDAK memberi kesan signifikan terhadap 𝘀𝘂𝗵𝘂 & 𝗰𝘂𝗮𝗰𝗮 𝗻𝗲𝗴𝗮𝗿𝗮.#metmalaysia pic.twitter.com/XR2wh3bRS4
The reason for the heat?
According to a study conducted by Universiti Teknologi MARA in 2019, Malaysia usually records the hottest days in March, which coincides with the equinox.
However, the equinox is not a contributor to this hot weather. The study found that the hottest temperatures in Malaysia are recorded a week after the equinox.
According to MET Malaysia, it is the shift of the Southwest Monsoon and the end of the Northeast Monsoon season, together with strong El Nino phenomena, that caused the less rainfall in the country.
This then leads to severe drought, dry conditions, rising temperature, and hotter weather.
Nonetheless, the equinox does affect what we perceive as ‘heat’, through intensified radiation from the sun as it hits the earth directly.
However, the equinox’s contribution to the hot weather is relatively insignificant when compared to the real change brought by the shift of the monsoon seasons.