Thursday, December 21, 2006

Bark? I'd Rather Howl!

I love the texture of bark on the trees around the cabin. This one is from a weathered oak tree that guards the entrance to my lane. It is weathered and rough to the touch, a true veteran of the forest, with the scars to prove it.

I’ve known for some time that my local weather is warmer than it has been before in my lifetime. I can see it in the dates of when the leaves drop and reappear in the spring. I can see it in the tree species—sassafras is lots more common, for one. I can see it in the bird species that live here. They are following the southern plants, trees and insects that move a bit further north each year.

As an example, I used to only see black-capped chickadees around my cabin. Perhaps once a year I would see a Carolina chickadee locally. Now, I live in the zone where black-cappeds and Carolinas are so interwoven that to be politically correct (and we all know how I am about that), I must call them chickadee sp. as the two “species” have hybridized so much that you can’t separate them. I also used to have house wrens; now I have Carolina wrens.

Even so, I was depressed to learn yesterday that the National Arbor Day Foundation has officially reclassified my area climate zone, and I am now in the same one as Virginia. They have a link (here) that shows the old zones and the new ones. And lest you think this change has occurred over decades, the “old” map was merely from 1990. (Thanks to the DC Birding blog for originally posting this link).

To me, the most striking thing between the old and new maps is the change that has occurred to Zone 5, a dark green band that used to stretch across southern third of Nebraska, southern Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, most of Ohio, northern Pennsylvania and all but the very northern part of New England. In the new map, all of Nebraska and Iowa are now in Zone 5, and once you are east of Iowa, Zone 5 now has almost entirely disappeared.

My old zone, Zone 6, now covers almost all of Pennsylvania except for the area I’m in. Instead, I am now in Zone 7, sharing the same climate zone with Virginia and western North Carolina, for heaven’s sake!

Another big change is the virtual disappearance of the cold Zone 3 from all but a few areas in the extreme northern U.S. Before, this zone nearly covered each of the northern border states. Now, this zone only extends a few miles south of the Canadian border.

Who needs to wait for the holidays to be depressed?

Here's the same tree, standing back a bit so you can see more than just the bark. But as I said in the title to today's post. After reading about my own little climate change, I'd rather howl!!

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