AskDefine | Define wintering

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Winter \Win"ter\, v. i. [imp. & p. p. Wintered; p. pr. & vb. n. Wintering.] To pass the winter; to hibernate; as, to winter in Florida. [1913 Webster] Because the haven was not commodious to winter in, the more part advised to depart thence. --Acts xxvii.
[1913 Webster]



  1. present participle of winter
Winter is one of the four seasons of temperate zones. Calculated meteorologically, it begins on the equinox and ends on the solstice. It is the season with the shortest days and the lowest average temperatures. It has colder weather and, especially in the higher latitudes or altitudes, snow and ice. The coldest average temperatures of the season are typically experienced in January in the Northern Hemisphere and in July in the Southern Hemisphere.



Meteorological winter is the season having the shortest days and the lowest temperatures. Night-time predominates the winter season, and in some regions it has the highest rate of precipitation as well as prolonged dampness because of permanent snow cover or high precipitation rates coupled with low temperatures, precluding evaporation. Blizzards often develop and cause many transportation delays. A rare meteorological phenomenon encountered during winter is ice fog, which is composed of ice crystals suspended in the air and happening only at very low temperatures, below about −30 °C
Accumulations of snow and ice are mostly associated with winter in the Northern Hemisphere, due to the large land masses there. In the Southern Hemisphere, the more maritime climate and the relative lack of land south of 40 degrees South makes the winters more mild, and thus snow and ice are less common in inhabited regions of the Southern Hemisphere. In the Southern Hemisphere, snow occurs every year in elevated regions such as the Andes, the Great Dividing Range in Australia, and the mountains of New Zealand, and also occurs in the southerly Patagonia region of South America. Snow occurs year-round in Antarctica.


It is often said that, astronomically, winter starts with the winter solstice and ends with the vernal equinox. In meteorology, it is by convention counted instead as the whole months of June, July and August in the Southern Hemisphere and December, January and February in the Northern Hemisphere. While in actuality, the most accurate start and end point is simply defined by when the first major wave of cold fronts and warm fronts hit a particular area, having no universally predetermined dates.
In Celtic nations such as Ireland using the Irish calendar, the winter solstice is traditionally considered as midwinter, with the winter season beginning November 1 on All Hallows or Samhain. Winter ends and spring begins on Imbolc or Candlemas, which is February 1 or February 2. This system of seasons is based on the length of days exclusively. The three-month period of the shortest days and weakest solar radiation occurs during November, December and January in the Northern Hemisphere and May-July in the Southern Hemisphere.
Also many mainland European countries tend to recognize Martinmas, St. Martin's day (November 11) as the first calendar day of winter. The day falls at midpoint between the old Julian equinox and solstice dates. Also, Valentines Day (February 14) is recognized by some countries as heralding the first rites of Spring (season), such as flower blooming.
In Chinese astronomy (and other East Asian calendars), winter is taken to commence on or around November 7, with the Jiéqì known as (立冬 lì dōng, literally "establishment of winter".)
The three-month period associated with the coldest average temperatures typically begins somewhere in late November or early December in the Northern Hemisphere. If "winter" is defined as the statistically coldest quarter of the year, then the astronomical definition is too late by almost all local climate standards, and the traditional English/Irish definition of November 1 (May 1 in the Southern Hemisphere) is usually too early to fit this standard. No matter the reckoning, winter is the only season that spans two calendar years in the northern hemisphere. (In other words, there are very few temperate climates in which the vernal equinox is on average colder than the winter solstice, and very few temperate climates in which Samhain is colder than Imbolc).


seealso Effect of sun angle on climate The tilt of the Earth's axis relative to its orbital plane has a dramatic effect on the weather. The Earth is tilted at an angle of 23.44° to the plane of its orbit, and this causes different latitudes on the Earth to directly face the Sun as the Earth moves through its orbit. It is this variation that primarily brings about the seasons. When it is winter in the Northern Hemisphere, the Southern Hemisphere faces the Sun more directly and thus experiences warmer temperatures than the Northern Hemisphere. Conversely, winter in the Southern Hemisphere occurs when the Northern hemisphere is tilted more toward the Sun. From the perspective of an observer on the Earth, the winter Sun has a lower maximum altitude in the sky than the summer Sun.
During winter in either hemisphere, the lower altitude of the Sun in winter causes the sunlight to hit that hemisphere at an oblique angle. In regions experiencing winter, the same amount of solar radiation is spread out over a larger area. This effect is compounded by the larger distance that the light must travel through the atmosphere, allowing the atmosphere to dissipate more heat.

Exceptional cases


To survive the harshness of winter, many animals have developed different behavioral and morphological adaptations for Overwintering:
  • Migration is a common effect of winter upon animals, notably birds. However the majority of birds do not migrate, the cardinal or European Robin for example. Some butterflies also migrate seasonally.
  • Hibernation is a state of reduced metabolic activity during the winter. Some animals "sleep" during winter and only come out as warm weather returns. For example, gophers, bears, frogs, snakes and bats hibernate.
  • Some animals store food for the winter and live upon it instead of hibernating completely. This is the case of squirrels, beavers, skunks, badgers and raccoons.
  • Resistance is observed when an animal endures winter but changes in ways such as color and musculature. The color of the fur or plumage are changed to white in order to be confused with snow and thus, to retain their cryptic coloration year round. Examples are the ptarmigan, the arctic fox, the weasel, the white-tailed jack rabbit or the mountain hare.
  • Some fur-coated mammals grow a heavier fur coat during the winter. This improves the heat-retention qualities of the fur. The coat is then shed following the winter season to allow better cooling. The heavier winter coat made this season a favorite for trappers who sought more profitable skins.
  • Snow also affects the ways animals behave; many take advantage of the insulating properties of snow by burrowing in it. Mice and voles typically live under the snow layer.
Annual plants never survive the winter. As for perennial plants, many small ones profit from the insulating effects of snow by being buried in it. Larger plants, particularly deciduous trees, usually let their upper part go dormant, but their roots are still protected by the snow layer. Few plants bloom in the winter, with exceptions including the flowering plum (which flowers in time for Chinese New Year).


Snow activities

Many winter activities involve the use of snow in some form (which sometimes may still be manmade, via snow cannons):
  • Bobsledding - a winter sport in which teams make timed runs down narrow, twisting, banked purpose-built iced tracks in a gravity-powered, steerable sled.
  • Skiing - the activity of gliding over snow using fiberglass planks called skis that are strapped to the skiers' feet with ski bindings.
  • Sledding - a downhill activity using a sled to glide downhill.
  • Snowball fight - a physical game in which snowballs are thrown with the intention of hitting someone else.
  • Snowboarding - an increasingly common sport where participants strap a composite board to their feet and slide down a snow-covered mountain.
  • Snowshoeing - a means of travel on top of the snow by increasing the surface area of the feet.
  • Snowman building - creating a man-like model out of snow.
  • Snow castle building - for example constructions such as the SnowCastle of Kemi, the largest in the world.

Ice activities

Many other winter activities and sports focus on ice, which may be contained in an ice rink.
  • Ice skating - a means of traveling on ice with skates, narrow (and sometimes parabolic) blade-like devices molded into special boots.
  • Ice boating - a means of travel in a specialized boat similar in appearance to a sailboat but fitted with skis or runners (skates) and designed to run over ice instead of (liquid) water.
  • Ice biking - The continuation of regular cycling activities in the winter and cold weather.
  • Ice fishing - the sport of catching fish with lines and hooks through an opening in the ice on a frozen body of water.
  • Ice diving - a type of penetration diving where the dive takes place under ice.
  • Ice sculpture - elaborate sculptures are carved out of blocks of ice.
  • Ice Hockey - A team sport played on the ice with skates, sticks and a puck. The goal is to send the puck in the adversary team's net.
  • Curling - A team sport using brooms and stones. The object of the game is to slide your stones in a bullseye and get your opponent's stones out of it.
  • Ice climbing - The recreational activity of climbing ice formations such as icefalls and frozen waterfalls.


See also


Further reading

  • Rosenthal, Norman E. (1998). Winter Blues. New York: The Guilford Press. ISBN 1-57230-395-6

External links

wintering in Arabic: شتاء
wintering in Asturian: Iviernu
wintering in Aymara: Autipacha
wintering in Belarusian: Зіма
wintering in Belarusian (Tarashkevitsa): Зіма
wintering in Bosnian: Zima
wintering in Bulgarian: Зима
wintering in Catalan: Hivern
wintering in Czech: Zima
wintering in Welsh: Gaeaf
wintering in Danish: Vinter
wintering in German: Winter
wintering in Estonian: Talv
wintering in Modern Greek (1453-): Χειμώνας
wintering in Erzya: Теле
wintering in Spanish: Invierno
wintering in Esperanto: Vintro
wintering in Basque: Negu
wintering in Persian: زمستان
wintering in French: Hiver
wintering in Friulian: Unvier
wintering in Galician: Inverno
wintering in Classical Chinese: 冬
wintering in Korean: 겨울
wintering in Hindi: शीत ऋतु
wintering in Croatian: Zima
wintering in Indonesian: Musim dingin
wintering in Icelandic: Vetur
wintering in Italian: Inverno
wintering in Hebrew: חורף
wintering in Georgian: ზამთარი
wintering in Haitian: Livè
wintering in Kurdish: Zivistan
wintering in Latin: Hiems
wintering in Latvian: Ziema
wintering in Luxembourgish: Wanter
wintering in Lithuanian: Žiema
wintering in Hungarian: Tél
wintering in Marathi: हिवाळा
wintering in Malay (macrolanguage): Musim sejuk
wintering in Dutch: Winter
wintering in Dutch Low Saxon: Wienter
wintering in Japanese: 冬
wintering in Norwegian: Vinter
wintering in Norwegian Nynorsk: Vinter
wintering in Narom: Hivé
wintering in Uzbek: Qish
wintering in Polish: Zima
wintering in Portuguese: Inverno
wintering in Romanian: Iarnă
wintering in Russian: Зима
wintering in Southern Sotho: Mariha
wintering in Albanian: Dimri
wintering in Sicilian: Mmirnata
wintering in Simple English: Winter
wintering in Slovak: Zima
wintering in Slovenian: Zima
wintering in Serbian: Зима
wintering in Serbo-Croatian: Zima
wintering in Finnish: Talvi
wintering in Swedish: Vinter
wintering in Thai: ฤดูหนาว
wintering in Vietnamese: Mùa đông
wintering in Tajik: Зимистон
wintering in Turkish: Kış
wintering in Ukrainian: Зима
wintering in Urdu: موسم سرما
wintering in Võro: Talv
wintering in Walloon: Ivier
wintering in Vlaams: Winter
wintering in Yiddish: ווינטער
wintering in Contenese: 冬天
wintering in Dimli: Zımıstan
wintering in Samogitian: Žėima
wintering in Chinese: 冬季
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