Tag Archives: climate change

A kind winter thus far in the UK

What a difference a year makes. At this midway point through Meteorological winter 2016/17, the weather so far has been much kinder than last year. December 2015 was horrendously mild, bad for wildlife in that most things were out of sync, the natural world in the UK at least didn’t know whether it was coming or going.

 

It was also bad for farming at this stage last winter, crops and grass were growing vigorously, and diseases and pests were prevalent, meaning more chemical expenditure down the line for struggling farming communities. We need winters like those of former years to return occasionally to restore some balance.

 

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This one thus far has seen a very typical Temperature setup locally with a reasonable tally of Air frosts when skies cleared by night, although precipitation has been somewhat with December proving very dry when compared to the average as the image below states.

 

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Personal Weather Station Monthly Climatological Summary for December 2016

 

As you’ll notice upon reading the above article from the Newbury Weekly News dated January 14th, 2016, phenology events, i.e., those signs from nature bore no resemblance to most years past, way before climate change processes steadfastly took a grip on things. The winter of 2016/17 thus far has been kinder to the farming community and consequently nature itself, as far as I am aware from what I’ve read and heard about in the press. Here’s to the rest of the winter, playing ball too then. I do feel for our European neighbours, though. January 2017, in particular, has so far seen brutal cold in a significant number of places as the following link to a recent BBC article indicates.

 

Icy weather in Europe causes more hardship and chaos

 

A couple of phenology events which need updating to my records database are the 1st instance of flowering Hazel catkins on the 15th January and 1st flowering Snowdrops around about the 13th January.

 

As ever, you can continue to access my Facebook updates by clicking on the Red Admiral butterfly icon below.

naturestimeline Education services – “A conservation professional sharing his personal perspective on breaking news stories from the world of nature alongside his own accounts from the field.”

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From autumn to spring in December 1806

December 2015 is most definitely an odd one. With its weather statistics and Natural World tales, it is certainly becoming one for the history books. Although, it is worth noting that we have been here before, as this example from 1806 shows, courtesy of the wonderful Wanstead Meteo blog. Of course, my current mean Temperatures of 5.4c above average could and perhaps should still be viewed as rather concerning.

Wanstead Meteo

When I was writing up my winter forecast I came across an analogue that was very similar to what seems to be unfolding this December.

The River Lea close to where Luke Howard's laboratory stood by wanstead_meteo The River Lea close to where Luke Howard’s laboratory stood

Luke Howard, in his first volume of The Climate of London, describes a very warm December that followed on from a warm November that fooled flora and fauna into thinking spring had begun early.

Howard’s statistics are very high: a November mean of 9.5C while December was 9.3C. CET that November was 2.3C above average while December was 3.3C above average. A slightly wetter than average was followed by a very wet December – over 250% the monthly average caused the River Lea to burst its banks in several places

“The catkins of the filberts expanded prematurely. On December 25th a hedge sparrow’s nest was taken at Doveridge, Derbyshire, with four eggs and…

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January and February datasets

As promised, how is the phenology looking against a backdrop of a very wet but reasonably mild Winter. One notable thing for me were the number of Thunder days, four in total, all of which occurred before the 16th January. This is quite exceptional under any circumstances and as a consequence there is a notable shift towards earlier day numbers.

1st Thunder day (locally) in date order as of 2014

1st Thunder day (locally) in date order as of 2014

2nd Thunder day (locally) in date order as of 2014

2nd Thunder day (locally) in date order as of 2014

3rd Thunder day (locally) in date order as of 2014

3rd Thunder day (locally) in date order as of 2014

4th Thunder day (locally) in date order as of 2014

4th Thunder day (locally) in date order as of 2014

Now onto the flowering plant and shrub species. The flowering plant species witnessed for the first time in Winter were Woodland Snowdrop, Winter Aconite, Daffodil (cultivated type), Primrose and Lesser Celandine. The flowering shrub species were the Hazel with its catkins and the Blackthorn in blossom.

First flowering Woodland Snowdrop (locally) in date order as of 2014

First flowering Woodland Snowdrop (locally) in date order as of 2014

First flowering Winter Aconite (locally) in date order as of 2014

First flowering Winter Aconite (locally) in date order as of 2014

First flowering Daffodil cultivar (locally) as of 2014

First flowering Daffodil cultivar (locally) as of 2014

First flowering Primrose (locally) as of 2014

First flowering Primrose (locally) as of 2014

First flowering Lesser Celandine (locally) in date order as of 2014

First flowering Lesser Celandine (locally) in date order as of 2014

First flowering Hazel (locally) as of 2014

First flowering Hazel (locally) as of 2014

First flowering Blackthorn (locally) as of 2014

First flowering Blackthorn (locally) as of 2014

Several of the above events are generally regarded as not suitable for accurate phenological tracking by certain well-known naturalists, can you guess which ones?

Two insect species were seen on the wing for the first time before the end of February and these were the first Bumblebee, presumably of the genus bombus terrestris as well as Brimstone butterfly. Below are the respective day numbers and rolling averages over a succession of years for those seasonal treats.

Bumblebee (locally) as of 2014

Bumblebee (locally) as of 2014

Brimstone butterfly (locally) as of 2014

Brimstone butterfly (locally) as of 2014

There were some other bird related sightings occurring for the first time this year, some of which will be apparent when looking at MY NATURAL EVENTS CALENDAR. I hope to blog about these over at ukbirdingtimeline soon, in the meanwhile, I will leave you to ponder any determinable trends in the data alongside some images of the above phenomena.

Blackthorn flowering

Blackthorn flowering

Bumblebee species

Bumblebee species

Hazel catkins flowering

Hazel catkins flowering

Click on the following underlined links in the blue text for other folk’s images of Primrose and Lesser Celandine in this previous posting.

Best Wishes and more updates soon

*the warmer start to March has accelerated some events yet further, keep watch on the events calendar for updates

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