CAPE CANAVERAL, Florida -- Today, June 21, 2012, marks the beginning of the 2012 Summer Solstice for the northern hemisphere. The longest day of the year during the 2012 Summer Solstice marks significant seasonal changes for the U.S.
Most significantly for coastal states, it marks the highest exposure of the northern Atlantic and Pacific oceans to the Sun's heating radiation. The rise in ocean temperatures then provides the energy necessary to produce stronger hurricanes during the summer heating which peaks in the Atlantic in September.
According to NASA, the spin axis of our planet is tilted 23.5 degrees with respect to Earth's orbit around the Sun. The northern summer solstice is an instant in time when the north pole of the Earth points more directly toward the Sun than at any other time of the year. It marks the beginning of summer in the northern hemisphere and winter in the southern hemisphere.
Summer solstice can occur on June 20, 21, or 22, depending on calendar events such as leap year.