I want to write a story on Earth as it is now, with the sole exception of one large island nation. I plan to introduce elements of mysticism into the story as well, but I would like to keep these subtle and explain the climate in non-magical ways if possible.

What I was wondering is if there was a location on Earth - or if I could design the island geographically or geologically in such a way - so that summers and winters are "shorter" in the sense that they are both not very intense, and for most of the year are indistinguishable from mild springs and autumns.

I plan to make this island's culture a blend of Korean/Japanese and Polynesian cultures, so a location somewhere between the two would be ideal.

Can it be done?

  • 2
    $\begingroup$ A lot of places near the equator don't have a summer or winter the way those from temperate climates think of it. they have a wet season and a dry season. $\endgroup$ – John Jul 26 at 16:07

The ocean itself tends to moderate climate -- Vancouver, BC, gets much less severe winters than Toronto, despite being somewhat further from the equator. Further, the temperature of the water has a strong effect -- Sheffield (England) would have a climate like Yellowknife if not for the tail end of the Gulf Stream warming the winters.

So, that's what you need -- an island influenced by a warm current. Japan already enjoys some of this benefit; the northern islands are similar in latitude to the eastern end of Siberia, but (though they get snow and a genuine winter) lack the killing cold of north central Asia. Iceland is also similar in being warmed by the Gulf Stream -- without that, it would more resemble Greenland (only small, and punctured with volcanoes).

Generally, currents running from the equator toward the poles are warm, those running the other direction are cold. This is slightly complicated by some currents running at depth instead of on the surface, but find a chart of ocean currents and you'll have a map showing where to put your island.

Depending what kind of current you find at what latitude, you could get a climate similar to Bermuda (due east of North Carolina), Iceland, Ireland & Great Britain, Tasmania, New Zealand, or Madagascar.

  • $\begingroup$ Compare southern Vancouver Island to southern Nova Scotia on the other side of the continent to see the impact of ocean currents and mountains. [Kind of fun to sit on a park bench in Victoria in the middle of summer with 20C weather while you look at snow capped mountains... Makes it kind of a magical place.] $\endgroup$ – TheLuckless Jul 26 at 20:05
  • $\begingroup$ Hopefully the placement of the "one large island nation" doesn't interfere with the currents. $\endgroup$ – CJ Dennis Jul 27 at 2:04
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    $\begingroup$ Hopefully the placement of the "one large island nation" doesn't interfere with the currents. $\endgroup$ – CJ Dennis Jul 27 at 2:05

Not only can it be done, but you're basically describing Vancouver Island. Vancouver Island has extremely mild winters and warm (but not hot) summers.

Most conveniently for the purposes of your story, you don't even have to add a new island to the Earth to make your story work. It's been often speculated (although not proven) that explorers from Korea and China might have reached the west coast of North America prior to the European colonization of the east. Certainly they were technologically capable of it, that they didn't was due to the fact that they didn't have any particular incentive to do so.

All you have to do is change history a little bit. Have Kublai Khan been a bit less successful in his campaigns resulting in a prolonged loss of China as both a trading partner and potential enemy during the eventual establishment of the Yuan Dynasty.

Without access to China's markets, Korea and Japan both would have had incentives to find resources and trade opportunities elsewhere, and it wouldn't have been difficult for an expedition to have found Vancouver Island and established a trading colony there. The climate is an even more pleasant version of what they had at home, with similar terrain, plants, and wildlife.

It's not hard to imagine a thriving colony growing up here made up of explorers, expatriates, and pirates from all over East Asia, more invested in their new home than any of their original motherlands, and more willing to band together to resist any attempts by said motherlands to throw their governmental weight around. You'd wind up with the Asian equivalent of the Wild West, but with more time for a sense of real political identity to arrive before the 19th century makes long distance travel so easy.

There's lots of ways you can play it politically from there, perhaps there's a land deal in the late 18th century with the nascent United States of America. Who knows?


The Canary Islands, the Insulae Fortunatae (Happy / Lucky Islands) of the ancients, are famous for their "eternal spring" climate -- average 24°C (75°F), winter 20°C (70°F), summer 26°C (80°F).

And they are real. Las Palmas (on Gran Canaria island) is a major tourist destination.

  • $\begingroup$ I think the Canaries go too far: looking at the climate data on Wikipedia, they don't have a temperate four-season climate, they've got a desert two-season climate, with distinct "wet" and "dry" seasons, but little temperature variation. $\endgroup$ – Mark Jul 27 at 7:18
  • $\begingroup$ @Mark: The canaries are native to the Canary Islands and they are not at all adapted to a desert lifestyle... Some parts of the Canaries are well forested. $\endgroup$ – AlexP Jul 27 at 10:07
  • $\begingroup$ They're on the wet end of the desert spectrum (some places have more rain than the usual 200mm cutoff), but my point is that they don't have a distinct annual hot-cool cycle. $\endgroup$ – Mark Jul 27 at 22:15

A good choice is a Mediterranean climate.

A Mediterranean climate or dry summer climate is characterized by dry summers and mild, wet winters. The climate receives its name from the Mediterranean Basin, where this climate type is most common. Mediterranean climate zones are typically located along the western sides of continents, between roughly 30 and 45 degrees north and south of the equator. The main cause of Mediterranean, or dry summer climate, is the subtropical ridge which extends northwards during the summer and migrates south during the winter due to increasing north-south temperature differences. (ref)

The wet winters and dry summers aren't necessary to your situation, but they come part and parcel with mild summers and winters and basically gorgeous year-round weather. Avoid the more extreme examples of the Mediterranean climate and aim for, say, coastal California.

In particular, try Catalina Island, not far from Los Angeles.

Santa Catalina Island has a very mild warm-summer Mediterranean climate (Köppen Csb) with warm temperatures year-round...The average January temperatures are a maximum of 58.4 °F (14.7 °C) and a minimum of 47.6 °F (8.7 °C). Average July temperatures are a maximum of 78.1 °F (25.6 °C) and a minimum of 60.0 °F (15.6 °C). There are an average of 12.5 days with highs of 90 °F (32 °C) or higher and an average of 0.3 days with lows of 32 °F (0 °C) or lower. (ref)

This particular island is fairly small ("22 mi (35 km) long and 8 mi (13 km) across at its greatest width") so yours would need to be bigger in order to accommodate all but the smallest of nation states.

Mediterranean climates occur on the Western coasts of large land masses in the correct latitudes. Putting your island further east will completely change the climate. Between Korea and Polynesia is the Philippines (well, mostly the Philippine sea to the east, which has room for a good sized island invention).

The Climate of the Philippines is either tropical rainforest, tropical savanna or tropical monsoon, or humid subtropical (in higher-altitude areas) characterized by relatively high temperature, oppressive humidity and plenty of rainfall. (ref)

Even if you go much further north, to a attitude closer to Southern California, you still have more summer heat.

The climate of Fukuoka, a Japanese city located on the north coast of Kyushu (which is the southernmost of the major Japanese islands), is temperate humid, with quite mild winters and hot, moist, and rainy summers. Like the rest of Japan, the city is affected by the monsoon circulation: in winter, the northwest cold currents prevail, while in summer, they are replaced by hot and humid currents of tropical origin. (ref)

It all depends what you want. If location is more important to you, then a humid temperate or tropical climate should still be within the range of more moderate winters (if not summers). But if you're okay with going further east, then nestle your island along the southern Californian coast and enjoy very mild, near perfect, weather year round.


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