Less predictable ramifications of global warming

This all seems a mite anachronistic now, but at the end of March when things appeared to be warming up and becoming rather more in keeping with the calendar this happened:

Snow capped post box at the front of my garden on March 23rd!

I often here folk grumbling that global warming often doesn’t feel that way, and, of course, the reason for that is that the average global temperatures are rising which can result in higher highs, but also lower lows, as more heat energy is sequestered in the atmosphere and the oceans causing altered patterns and much greater unpredictability. ‘Climate change‘ therefore seems the more accurate description.

From the point of view of the UK, our weather system is complicated because we are at the edge competing systems, from the south and west Atlantic, east from Europe and north from the Arctic. A major determinant of which of these systems dominates is the jet stream. This is a ribbon of fast flowing air, around 100mph (160kph), formed at the barrier between cold arctic air and warmer mid-latitude air, around 6-6.5miles (11000m) up, and moving from west to east. It’s position can wobble northwards and southwards and in the winter it tends to be south of the UK so we are dominated by cold polar air and in the summer it migrates further north so warmer conditions can predominate. But due to climatic variability in recent years the position of the jest stream has not conformed to tradition and has remained much further south so our summer weather has been much colder and wetter in the last few years.

Hence snow at the end of march…

A male great tit, Parus major, wondering what’s going on!

The unseasonal weather over the last few years has caused real problems for wildlife. Numbers of bees and butterflies have been down and hibernating creatures such as hedgehogs can struggle to find food when they eventually arise from the winter slumber.

A male blackcap, Sylvia atricapilla, nibbling on frozen fatballs

The blackcap pair which arrived in my garden in January made their last appearance during the March snow and then disappeared. I think they must have been overwintering here in the UK and when the really cold weather finally ended they headed back on their long flight to central Europe in time for the breeding season.

We’re now at the end of June and the jet stream has moved north allowing high pressure systems to move in from the Atlantic to the west and bring some warm weather. Long may it last!

Advertisements

7 responses to “Less predictable ramifications of global warming

  1. I can’t even begin to think about the ramifications of climate change and its long term effects, but despite all of our concerns about its effects on our wildlife, now that summer is finally here, have you noticed its been a fantastic season for wildflowers? Everything has been prolific from dandelions through to elder blossom! And our house sparrows have so far produced two new broods. Where there is life there is hope….

    • Hello Theresa, I had noticed the profusion of wildflowers and I’m hoping that it enables a late resurgence of the insects either this year or next.

      Great news about your sparrows. I’ve had plenty of fledglings in the garden, the most numerous and noticeable being the starlings and the greenfinches.

    • Hello Theresa, I had noticed the profusion of wildflowers and I’m hoping that it enables a late resurgence of the insects either this year or next.

      Great news about your sparrows. I’ve had plenty of fledglings in the garden, the most numerous and noticeable being the starlings and the greenfinches.

  2. Hear hear! I hope it does last through what we think of as the summer, or perhaps even longer. I read an article in New Scientist recently about how the melting ice caps will result in sea level drops rather than rises in some places, it’s all very complicated. How wonderful to have a postbox right outside your garden.

    • On the subject of melting ice caps I was reading that the Greenland ice sheet is now losing an additional 250 cubic kilometres of ice per annum. That’s around two hundred and fifty thousand million tons of water a year, which sounds to me like it will have a collosal effect that won’t be good. But hey, we’ll be OK, apparently we’ve lots smore shale gas here in the UK than originally thought 😦

      BTW that post box does come in handy.

  3. It’s really upsetting to see how climate change is stressing wild life… hope yours have a chance to recover now the good weather has come. Ours are feeling the effects of three droughts in four years…

    • It’s really unhealthy for everything, including Homo sapiens. One of these days the species will wake up to the idea that things need to change. I hope.

      It seems everywhere is under the cosh, we had drought for a couple of years until April last year and then we had horrendous floods all summer and this year the spring was very cold. It’s been very noticeable that numbers of bees, butterflies and dragonflies have been well down.

Please share your thoughts:

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s