Why Does Japan Suffer from Intense Summer Humidity?

Uncover why Japan suffers intense summer humidity from the Kuroshio Current and heat island effect.

Why Does Japan Suffer from Intense Summer Humidity?
Photo by Marcelo Quinan / Unsplash

When one thinks of Japan, images of cherry blossoms, ancient temples, and bustling cities often come to mind.

However, what many people fail to realize is the intense humidity that grips the country during the summer months.

What causes Japan's summers to be so oppressively humid, especially considering Japan is far from the equator?

Ocean Currents and Humidity

The primary reason behind Japan's humid summers lies in the ocean currents that flow around the country.

Due to the Earth's rotation, ocean currents rotate as well, forming large gyres that circulate clockwise in the northern hemisphere and counterclockwise in the southern hemisphere.

This phenomenon results in warm ocean currents along the eastern coasts of continents.

In the case of Japan, the Kuroshio Current, an extension of the North Equatorial Current, washes over its eastern shores, bringing warm, moisture-laden air from the tropics.

Warm Currents and Moisture

The Kuroshio Current, originating from the tropics, produces copious amounts of water vapor as it flows towards Japan's eastern coastline.

This moisture-laden air, when met with the warm summer temperatures, results in the high levels of humidity experienced across the country during the summer months.

Similar to the effect of warm ocean currents leading to the humidity of Florida compared to the drier climate of California, Japan experiences increased moisture levels due to the influence of the Kuroshio Current.

Urbanization and Heat Island Effect

Additionally, the rapid urbanization and extensive infrastructure in Japan contribute to the heat island effect during the summer months.

The concentration of buildings, concrete, and asphalt in urban areas absorbs and retains heat, leading to higher temperatures and exacerbating the already humid conditions.

This phenomenon is particularly noticeable in cities like Tokyo, where the combination of humidity and urbanization creates a muggy and uncomfortable environment.

So, while Japan may be renowned for its cultural heritage and natural beauty, its climate during the summer is a reminder of the intricacies and impact of ocean currents on regional weather patterns.