When we think about climate change, we often imagine faraway regions like the Arctic polar ice caps or the Brazilian jungles. While the effects of climate change are more acute in these locations, they are also beginning to be felt in more temperate climates such as the United States. We can witness climate change in action in a number of ways, one of which is how it impacts the seasons.
Is it really only two seasons?
Each year in the United States, we normally have four seasons. However, some experts believe that as the climate changes, so will the way our seasons are organized. The year will be dominated by only two seasons: winter and summer, rather than four seasons of equal length. In April and October, spring and fall will become brief transitional phases, with the rest of the year characterized by more intense hot and cold weather.
Winters that are milder
Seasonal warming occurs at an uneven pace across the United States, with winter temperatures rising quicker than summer temperatures, according to research. Many cities are still experiencing unusually cold temperatures, as the recent arctic vortex demonstrated. However, the frequency of days with temperatures below freezing is decreasing each winter. By 2050, cities across the country, particularly in the southern states and the Pacific Northwest, are expected to lose up to two months of sub-freezing weather.
While this may sound appealing to those who dislike the cold, warmer winters can be severely detrimental to local ecosystems. Pests like ticks and mosquitos, for example, are normally kept at bay by chilly winters. Warmer winters will help these pests to survive the season, resulting in a population explosion as well as a higher risk of illnesses like Lyme disease.
The loss in snowfall is one of the worst effects of rising winter temperatures. Because desert ecosystems receive relatively little rain throughout the year, snow is an important water supply for the western United States. During the dry season, snow accumulates in mountain ranges and slowly melts over the spring and summer, providing a continuous flow of water to the rivers below. However, if less snow is stored throughout the winter, or if it melts too quickly, fragile desert ecosystems will be unable to survive.
An Early Bloom
Warmer temperatures occur early in the spring due to shorter winters. Many trees and flowers blossom earlier as a result of this. This is bad news if you suffer from spring allergies. An early blossoming season, on the other hand, may be much more harmful to the plants. Even when plants blossom early, there is still a risk of frost in late winter and early spring. Frost-sensitive plants can be damaged by just one bad frost, which can affect their ability to produce nuts, seeds, and fruit in the future.
Plants use the temperature of their surroundings to determine when to blossom, while most animals need a little longer to acclimatize to a new seasonal cycle. When springtime birds and insects don’t arrive in time to pollinate the flowers, an early bloom throws off the crucial interaction between plants and pollinators. Plants and animals exist in a delicate equilibrium with their surroundings, and shifting temperatures might jeopardize their capacity to reproduce and thrive.
Droughts Can Be Dangerous
Summers have already become hotter and longer as a result of seasonal changes. Drought has become a severe concern in the western and central United States as a result of changing precipitation patterns. Increased rainfall is a result of climate change in areas that are already prone to storms, such as the southern coastal states. However, it diminishes rainfall in places that are already dry, like as the southwest. Remember how shorter winters resulted in less snowfall? This also causes summer droughts since there isn’t enough water to keep the soil moist throughout the dry season.
Poor soils moisture, in turn, establishes the basis for heat waves, which are periods of high heat. When the sun’s energy hits the ground, instead of acting to evaporate moisture from the air and soil, it heats it up. Summer heat waves are becoming more common, especially in desert locations. Extreme heat waves, which ordinarily occur every twenty years, are anticipated to occur every two to three years by the end of the century.
Although climate change is a global phenomenon, its consequences can be felt on a local level. Warmer temperatures will cause our seasons to shift in unexpected ways, posing a threat to our ecosystems, wildlife, and human health.