Can You Observe Climate Change in Your Garden?
Oct 06 2016 Read 1964 Times
Climate change has a range of negative effects. To observe the effects, most people look to the ice caps and changes in the weather. But what if you could observe climate change right on your doorstep? Your garden to be precise. Read on to see what climate change is doing to your garden, and if you can do anything to stop it.
The ‘normal’ process is that spring comes and the weather warms up. This causes plants and flowers to grow and begin their cycle of reproduction for another year. They do this because they have evolved to adapt to the weather, only growing when the temperature is right in order to avoid extreme cold.
But when climate change causes weather to warm up, the cycle gets shifted. With warmer temperatures coming earlier, plants are growing sooner than they probably should. The maturity dates of winegrapes in Australia, for instance, were found to be getting earlier in 35 of 44 cases. The advance, on average, was nearly 2 days over 16 years. So it’s not a huge change but over time the process is speeding up.
Flowers earlier in the year. Great, right? Not really. Plants growing sooner means they also ripen sooner and possibly too soon. While plants avoid extreme cold temperatures, they also need to avoid the extreme heat. Flowering in the peak of summer makes plants vulnerable to heat damage.
Some plants are dependent on pollination across different varieties too. For this to happen, they have to be growing at a similar time and have overlapping flowering periods. If some plants suddenly start flowering earlier, they won’t pollinate properly and consequently won’t produce their usual fruit.
Unfortunately, you can’t singlehandedly stop climate change. The advice now is to respond and adapt to it. Monitor your plants. Use frost covers, and heat nets to protect them from extreme temperatures. Assist their pollination by planting a range of cross pollinator plants nearby.
As we’ve seen, nature can be used to monitor the effects of climate change. But it can also be used to monitor the factors that lead up to climate change, like air pollution. ‘Measuring trace gas emissions in soil: Solving the known unknowns’ is an article that explores the role of soil in measuring emissions. Modern chambers and gas analysis technology means we can now look at the changing content of soil over time. Precise measurements of nitrogen oxide, nitrous oxide, ammonia and methane provide a big boost for this field of research.
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