Monthly Turfgrass Roundup (June 2013)
Turfgrass Mystery: what happened to this green?

Looking back to a July with record heat and drought

Habu CC 10 green

Twelve years ago this month, I was the greenkeeper at Habu CC in Chiba prefecture, near Tokyo. I was recently looking at some photos of the course from that month, and reminiscing on the hard work of golf course maintenance that summer. I remember that it was hot, and that we had to irrigate a lot, and that I or one of the interns or employees would have to go to the course every night to check if the irrigation system was working properly.

Today I wondered just how hot and dry it was that month. So I looked it up. The most extensive set of data near Habu CC are from the Chiba station, with data for 47 years, from 1966 through 2012. I have made a few plots to show these data.

July 2001 matched the previous record monthly average temperature, and that record was only broken in 2010. This chart includes a red line with the average for all 47 years, and the data for 2001 are shown in a green square. The mean July temperature in 2001 was more than 2.5°C above the long-term average.

Chiba_mean

At the time, July 2001 set a new record for average daily high temperature, breaking the previous record by almost 1°C, nearly 4°C above the long-term average. That record was broken in July 2004.

Max_chiba

Combined with the record-setting heat, I was surprised to discover that it was the driest July on record, with only 8 mm of precipitation, less than 10% of the long-term average.

Chiba_july_precip

I remember that we worked hard that summer, but at the time, I did not realize that we were working through record heat and drought. Thanks to the fine records of the Japan Meteorological Agency, I now have a better idea of how that month compares to a typical July. And with that knowledge, I am especially grateful to the fine greenkeeping staff from that summer – a third of whom have gone on to become golf course superintendents themselves – who worked so hard to maintain these conditions through that record-setting heat and drought. 

Habu CC 14 tee

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