We write about the connections between environment, wildlife, food, and health. Diet choices worldwide are among the top three drivers of global climate change and habitat loss.
Friday, December 22, 2006
It's getting hot in here
How about an avocado tree for Christmas?
Your gardening loved ones are in luck this holiday season.New data from the NationalClimacticDataCenter indicates that hardiness zones – climate regions determined by lowest annual temperature – have shifted significantly in all fifty states since 1990.
While the USDA has yet to comment on the new data or offer updated zone maps, just this week the National Arbor Foundation has released maps delineating the redefined hardiness zones. The Foundation’s news release affirms that the new data “is consistent with the consensus of climate scientists that global warming is underway.”
The new data reflect the lowest annual temperatures as recorded at 5000 research stations for the past fifteen years.Nationwide, the changes are dramatic. Entire states have changed zones since 1990.Iowa, for instance, was once more than half Zone 4, with an average annual low of -30 to -20 degrees.Now, the entire state is reclassified Zone 5, with a low of just -10 to -20.Much of the Northeast is now Zone 6 (-10 to 0 degrees), while Zone 7 spreads across the South.
Agricultural extension agents affirm that adventurous gardeners now stand a chance at growing palms and other tropical plants.Warm-weather plants previously restricted to the South, such as the lovely winter-blooming camellia, are now creeping across the Mason-Dixon line.
Meanwhile, however, cold-weather plants are struggling to keep their cool. North Carolina cooperative extension agent Karen Neill notes that white pines in her area have struggled recent years; not surprising when the ten hottest days on record have all occurred since 1990, as Arbor Day spokesman Woody Nelson notes.
Changes in plant distribution may have serious affects across the food chain.As plant species change in abundance, the animals that depend on them for food and shelter will also be forced to adapt.Humans, too, may feel unexpected impacts.Scientists expect that continued climate change may seriously impact farming and crop distribution.
To see the maps for yourself, check out the Arbor Day Foundation’s website.The Foundation recommends planting trees as a means of combating this change.Trees remove carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas that contributes to global warming, from the atmosphere, and provide shade that keeps the ground cool and reduces energy use.
By Sara Kate Kneidel
Keywords: hardiness zones, climate change, global warming
Take a peek at our African blog, about the village of Welverdiend next to Kruger National Park
The blog promotes ecotourism in this South African village, which helps create sustainable livelihoods for villagers and helps them to protect their natural resources and their traditional culture. Our visits to Welverdiend was have been among the most interesting days of my life (click on pic).
In 2010, Ken and Sally took off for Southeast Asia. Our goal: to investigate the illegal trade in wildlife that's rampant in Southeast Asia, and to see wild orangutans before they face extinction. See my posts from July 2010-Dec 2010. Or click here.
Ken and Sally studied in South Africa in 2007 and 2009 with the Director of OTS, South Africa. We learned so much about the threats to wildlife in southern Africa. We especially treasured our studies in two indigenous villages, where residents struggle to make ends meet with dwindling resources. Read our posts for info about planning your own visit or contact Sally directly at email@example.com for help with planning your trip.
Sally, Sadie, Ken and Alan spent a couple of months in the Amazon and the Peruvian Andes in 2008. Check out our posts about the indigenous people, places, hikes, and wildlife of Peru. We planned the stay ourselves and can help you plan a similar stay. Our Peru posts of July-October 2008 all have recommendations for bird guides, nature guides, a travel agent, buslines, taxi drivers, biological stations, and inexpensive hostels where we stayed - with contact information for all.