Climate of Taiwan

Some basic information about the climate of Taiwan

What kind of climate does Taiwan have?

According to the Köppen-Geiger’s climate classification there are twelve different climate types in Taiwan:

  • Tropical: rainforest (Af),Monsoon (Am) and Savannah (Aw)
  • Temperate: dry winter-hot summer (Cwa), dry winter-warm summer (Cwb) and dry winter-cold summer (Cwc)
  • Temperate: no dry season-hot summer (Cfa), no dry season-warm summer (Cfb) and no dry season-cold summer (Cfc)
  • Polar: tundra (ET) and frost (EF)

Koppen-Geiger Map of taiwan, by Beck, H.E., Zimmermann, N. E., McVicar, T. R., Vergopolan, N., Berg, A., & Wood, E. F.

Taiwan has actually quite a lof of different climate types:

In the south there is tropical climate with rainforest and savanah-like areas.

In south-west Taiwan, the mountains block the rain which results in dry winters and hot summers. This also results in man sunhours. The city of Tainan for example has around 2649 hours of sunshine a year. Thats 7 hours a day!

The mountaineous areas have dry winters and depending the area and height cold- warm- or hot summers. Some of the mountain tops even have the polar climate type.

The North of Taiwan the weather is hot and winter is mild there is no dry season. Throughout the year there can be rainfall resulting in much less sunshine than the sunny south.

Climate classification

But lets go back a little…. the Köppen…what….. classification!? Well, I think this needs some explanation. I also did not know what it exactly was about. But after some research I found out that the Köppen-Geiger’s climate classification is a system to determine the boundaries of a climate.

Climate boundaries are often based on minimum-, average- and maximum monthly temperatures. Unique to the Köppen-Geiger’s climate classification system is that the boundaries of this system (e.g. the monthly average temperatures ) are based on the range in which certain plants grow.

For example: the boundary between tropical and dry climate is determined based on if there are trees growing in the area or not.

Another example: the boundary between a seaclimate and colder landclimate is based on where broadleaved trees still grow and where only pine trees grow.

Climate or …weather..?

Often when planning a travel people search for “climate” when actually they want to know the weather in a certain month or season of the year to determine the best moment for visiting.

Both climate and weather are based on a certain location/region however the difference between ‘weather’ and ‘climate’ is that weather refers mostly to a short-term timeframe while ‘climate’ is the average weather over a long timeframe. This timeframe of ‘weather’ can be as short as minutes and hours but also day-to-day or even season-to-season while the timeframe of ‘climate’ can easily span 10 to 30 years or even more.

So what is the weather like in Taiwan?

In general Taiwan summers are very hot and winters are mild. In summer during the day it can be over 35 degrees Celsius and afternoon showers with some thunder are common.

In winter the average temperature is around 11-15 degree however some warmer days of around 18-20 degree still occur. Some mountains areas in Central Taiwan will be covered with snow.

On rare occasions it can even snow at Yangmingshan close to Taipei city! When this happens many people come out to see and often the traffic jams up the mountain occur!

Typhoons (e.g. Hurricane) occur in Taiwan and the season runs from June until end of September. The path and strength can vary and they can also occur outside this time window. However typhoons are very unpredictable so when one is heading to Taiwan keep an eye on the weather forecast.

When I stayed in Taipei there was a Typhoon close one time. It was covered in the news beforehand so everyone could prepare. But when it hit it actually was quite oke, I guess in the City of Taipei the buildings block the wind a lot! Luckily that time no real danger situation or damage occured.

How could climate change influence Taiwan?

As we can see worldwide happening due to climate change the average temperatures increase. Most likely this will result in greater weather extremes. The last 100 years the average temperature in Taiwan increased already by 1.4 Celsius. This will likely to increase even more. For Taiwan this would probably result in even hotter (and longer) summers more drought in the south-west and hotter summers with more rainfall in the north-east.

As ocean temperatures rise which influences the atmosphere above Typhoons could occure more and can be heavier with higher windspeeds and more rainfall. Also oceanlevels may rise which influence the coastal areas in Taiwan.

Sources [1], wikipedia [2], central weather bureau [3]

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