Fernando de Noronha summer time?

Gwillim Law RLAW at nc.rr.com
Mon Nov 3 22:28:09 UTC 2003

On October 17, 2003, "Rodrigo Severo" <rodrigo.lists at fabricadeideias.com>

>4. Fernando de Noronha island had wrong timezone info as it should
>include all DSTs for the Pernambuco state after 1988 as Fernando de
>Noronha island became part of the Pernambuco state after the brazilian
>contitution of 1988. If someone has any doubt about it, please check
>decree 96676 (pre 1988) which clearly includes Pernambuco state,
>Fernando de Noronha and Atlantic islands. Compare with decree 98077 (pos
>1988) which clearly includes Pernambuco state and Atlantic islands
>(doesn't mention Fernando de Noronha because it already mentioned

I agree with the underlying facts stated, but I have some doubts about the
conclusions drawn from them.  My concern is that the oceanic islands are so
unimportant that they may have been negligently omitted from the decrees.
They're in a different time zone from the mainland, which suggests that they
might get special treatment.

To get more certainty, I searched the Internet for direct testimony about
the observation of summer time the oceanic islands.  I wasn't able to reach
any definite conclusions, because there was too much contradictory
information.  I wanted to place my findings on record in case anyone else
can use them or add to them.  Those who don't care about the intricate
details may stop reading here.

Some background:  The phrase "ilhas oceânicas" (oceanic islands; the word
"Atlantic" is not used in the decrees) can mean any islands off the coast of
Brazil.  There are many oceanic islands that are no more than about 10 km.
from the mainland.  The time zone decrees, however, are probably referring
to the five groups that are over 100 km. offshore.  Trindade and Martin Vaz
are administratively part of Espírito Santo state; Atol das Rocas is in Rio
Grande do Norte; Fernando de Noronha and Penedos de São Pedro e São Paulo
are in Pernambuco.  Fernando de Noronha and the Penedos were a separate
territory, called Fernando de Noronha, from 1942-09-02 to 1989-01-01.
According to just about all sources, all of these remote islands have UTC-2
for standard time, while the standard times in mainland Brazil are UTC-3 or
earlier.  They lie between 28° and 34° longitude West, near the central
meridian the UTC-2 strip.

To save a little space, I'll use the standard abbreviations ES for Espírito
Santo, FN for Fernando de Noronha, PE for Pernambuco, and RN for Rio Grande
do Norte.

I think Sr. Severo's point is that FN was not mentioned in the second decree
because it had become part of PE.  He believes that after 1988, whenever PE
is mentioned, FN is included.  That may be so, but I think there's another
possible explanation.  I think "oceanic islands" always includes FN.  The
reason that FN is mentioned explicitly in the first decree is that it was
then an "entidade da federação", ranking equally with the states.

For this analysis, I started from the hypothesis that the decrees mean
exactly what they say.  If that's the case, the oceanic islands observe
summer time on the same schedule as the states they belong to, unless the
decree mentions them specifically.  I also hypothesized that the oceanic
islands all had UTC-2 as their standard time.  Then I checked to see if any
of the Web sites I found disagree with the hypothesis.  Here are the
results, starting with the most official sites.


Web site of the Time Service Division of the National Observatory of Brazil.
This is the source for the decrees we've been talking about.  According to
the decrees, PE and RN both observed summer time every year that it was
observed in Brazil up until 1990.  They resumed observing it in the summers
of 1999-2002, except that they went off it early in the summer of 2000-2001,
along with several other states.  As for ES, it has always observed summer
time whenever any part of Brazil did.  The oceanic islands aren't explicitly
mentioned in any of the decrees after number 98077.  The only problem here
is that mentioning the oceanic islands is redundant.


The map on this page clearly shows that none of the oceanic islands observed
summer time in 2003-2004, not even Trindade and Martin Vaz.  The hypothesis
says that they should observe it along with their state (ES).


Tables on these pages state that none of the oceanic islands observe summer
time, except for FN, which is supposed to be in UTC-3 in the winter and
UTC-2 in the summer.  This is probably a mistake, because no reliable source
ever shows FN observing UTC-3 at any time.  For Trindade and Martin Vaz, we
have the same conflict as before.


These pages are from the Brazilian National Electrical Energy Agency.  They
show that FN and the oceanic islands don't observe summer time.  This
probably refers to 2002-2003.  Same problem with Trindade and Martin Vaz.


This appears to be an official Web site for São Paulo State.  The page is
dated February 8, 1996.  It talks about the energy savings attributable to
summer time for 1995-1996.  It says that, after summer time ended, FN and
other oceanic islands remained (ficam) 60 minutes ahead of Brasilia time.
This would seem to imply that they observed summer time along with Brasilia.
If so, that would conflict with the hypothesis.  But there is an ambiguity
in Portuguese.  While the primary meaning of "ficar" is "to remain", it is
often used to mean simply "to be".  The statement may not really say
anything about summer time in the oceanic islands.


This article from the Recife "Jornal do Commercio" for December 23, 1999
implies that FN was observing summer time that year.  That fits the


This educational site says that FN and other oceanic islands do not observe
summer time; no date is given.  If the page is up-to-date, and refers to the
period since February, 2002, it fits the hypothesis except for Trindade and
Martin Vaz.


These are two consecutive messages from a thread regarding airline schedules
in October, 2000, the month when several states decided to go off summer
time a week or two after they went on it.  The first message says that FN is
a special case, and it follows PE time but has its own time zone.  If that
makes any sense at all, it must mean that FN is always one hour ahead of PE.
The second message says that departures from "Natal/FEN" will occur an hour
earlier than the time printed on the ticket, starting on 2000-10-22, when
Natal stopped participating in summer time.  "Natal/FEN" probably means that
the information applies both to Natal, the capital of RN state, and FN.  The
decrees say that RN state went off summer time on 2000-10-22, but PE did it
a week earlier, on 2000-10-15.  The only conflict with our hypothesis is
whether FN turned back the clock on the 22nd or the 15th of October.


This tourism site says that FN doesn't observe summer time; there is no clue
as to its date.  No conflict, assuming the date is recent.


This tourism site says that FN did not observe summer time in 2002-2003.  No


This tourism site says that FN does not observe summer time.  No date is
given.  No conflict, assuming a recent date.


This tourism site says that FN did not observe summer time in 1999-2000, but
PE did.  If our hypothesis is right, FN should have observed summer time
that year.


This tourism site says that FN did not observe summer time in 2000-2001, but
the other oceanic islands did.  The hypothesis says that FN should have
observed it, and Trindade and Martin Vaz shouldn't.


This astrology site has a table summarizing the decrees.  It differs in
minor ways from the decrees.  In the 1988-1990 period, it doesn't mention
FN, but leaves us to conclude that it is covered as part either of PE or the
oceanic islands.  It mentions that PE observed summer time in 2000-2002, but
adds FN explicitly for 2001-2002.  If the omission of FN in 2000-2001 is
significant, that would contradict the hypothesis.


This page, devoted to Brazilian radio scouts, says that FN did observe
summer time and other oceanic islands did not.  It has a copyright date of
2001 and a "last modified" of August 26, 2002, so it probably refers to
2000-2001 or 2001-2002.  In either of those years, the hypothesis says that
all of the oceanic islands should have observed it.


Novo Milênio is an electronic newspaper.  This page is a reprint of an
article from the Santos newspaper "A Tribuna" for January 30, 1978.  It says
that standard time for the oceanic islands (specifically, FN, Atol das
Rocas, and Trindade) was UTC-2 at some prior time, but now (in 1978) it was
UTC-3.  This would conflict with our hypothesis, but I think it must be a
mistake.  I have copies of Almanaque Abril, the Brazilian reference book,
for 1978 and 1985.  They both say that the oceanic islands had a standard
time of UTC-2.

The tz ftp site has an archive of old e-mails to the tz mailing list.
Stefan Johansson wrote on 1999-10-02 that he had a newspaper clipping from O
Estado de S. Paulo of that date, regarding the new decree for 1999-2000.
Without quoting from the article, he summarizes his conclusions in a table.
On one row of the table, FN is shown as not observing summer time that year;
on another row, PE (except FN) does observe it.  This is inconsistent with
the hypothesis.

Gwillim Law

More information about the tz mailing list