Spring flowers are blooming weeks later than normally expected this year. Last year they were weeks earlier than expected.
Here are some comparison dates from Ody Brook Sanctuary:
Wild Flowers 2012 2013
Narrow-leaved Spring Beauty 19 March 25 April
Trout Lily or Adder’s Tongue 7 April 28 April
Large-flowered Trillium 19 April 6 May
Pussy-toes 7 April 5 May
Common Dandelion 1 April 2 May
Yellow Rocket 19 April 8 May
Spring Cress 29 March 28 April
Wild Geranium 23 April 8 May
Wood Anemone 6 April 3 May
Common Blue Violet 31 March 4 May
Serviceberry 21 March 1 May
Quaking Aspen 13 March 17 April
Red Maple 21 March 27 April
Silver Maple 13 March 15 April
Weather is short-term change in temperature, wind and precipitation. It is different than climate. Weather is greatly influenced by climate and can have catastrophic impacts on our lives, incomes, and ability to live in some areas. It affects human lives and the lives of plants and animals. As climate changes, it affects long-term timing and success of species to reproduce and maintain populations. It is not something observed well within a few decades. Centuries are needed to adequately track changes in climate. We can of course monitor clues and make scientific predictions that have reasonable accuracy.
Weather is short-term changes occurring hourly, daily, weekly, and monthly. With computer modeling, weather forecasters are quite good at predicting fairly accurately expected weather for 7 to 10 days. Beyond that computer data crunching provides somewhat reasonable predictions for the next month or two. The accuracy diminishes with increased predictions projections.
That brings us to climate predictions. Climate is long-term averages of weather patterns that include temperature, precipitation, and winds. Clearly global temperature is increasing rapidly and has already changed livability in some areas. With no high ground some islands are experiencing flooding while other areas are experiencing desertification. People need to be relocated. Plants and animals indigenous to those islands are dying as sea level covers land or less precipitation limits survival.
Annually weather changes are become erratic and stressing life. When flowers bloom too early, they are likely to be killed by frost later in the season. This happened last year and we noticed it with the loss of apple and cherry fruits among other things. Some flower emergence changes are resulting in blooming at times different from insect pollinator occurrence and this reduces their reproductive success.
Last week global atmospheric carbon reached 400 parts per million compared with 280 ppm being the norm 150 years ago and 315 ppm in 1958. It is clear that human caused carbon release into the atmosphere is changing climate. This is having some immediate effects but the greatest impacts will affect our children and grandchildren. Our life style and abundance has consequences for our families and nature niches. We determine how much carbon we add to the atmosphere by how we live our daily lives. Act locally and think globally.
Natural history questions or topic suggestions can be directed to Ranger Steve (Mueller) at the firstname.lastname@example.org Ody Brook, 13010 Northland Dr, Cedar Springs, MI 49319-8433.