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Are winters getting warmer?

Every year for the last 3 decades we have felt winter getting shorter and milder so are winters getting warmer? Children expect snow on Christmas day, at least, so every morning they look out the window expecting snow had fallen during the night.

In recent years, this expectation has been met with more disappointment. We do have the odd harsh winter, but these come with more violent weather patterns. Like the extreme Texas power outages caused due to stress done by a harsh winter in an area not usually dealing with such winters. So what’s going on?

Cyclical nature and human nature

Nature has always had its cycles in the form of seasons. Plants and animals have all adapted to these changing seasons. Since having roots means plants cannot migrate some of them shed their leaves to retain more water which might otherwise evaporate through them. Others have wax-coated needle foliage that prevents water loss.

Animals migrate or have evolved to cope with harsh temperatures during wintertime. Humans, on the other hand, expect to see snow on Christmas day as children, or curse the sight of it, as adults. They will be late to work, shoveling snow to get on the road. 

Are winters getting warmer?

Warmer winters are very appealing to those of us that have to deal with snow every year. On the dark side, a warm winter can spell awful consequences. Seasonal snow helps regulate the earth’s climate system.

Not only winter becomes warmer every year but summer as well. A warmer summer could mean a drier summer, which will encourage wildfires. Recently a number of fires have made themselves present in more than one country as news outlet coverage has shown. 

It’s thus not only a question of whether are winters getting warmer but why every season is getting warmer as well.

The benefits of snow

Snow has reflective properties and most seasonal snowfalls are in the Northern hemisphere. This insulating white blanket reflects 80 to 90 percent of winter sunlight, back into space, cooling off the planet.

Apart from that, once that snow melts, the water fills up rivers and reservoirs. This offers water in some places of the world that have difficulty maintaining a steady source, all year round. 

When we’re thinking are winters getting warmer we should also be thinking about whether are we getting less water and how it impacts certain places.

The effects of winters getting warmer?

Questioning are winters getting warmer brings out more questions, like what effects it has. Many issues will not have simple solutions.

Animal adaptability

It’s impressive to see how some animals have adapted to cold climates. Deer and elks have shaggy thick fur coats that insulate them from the cold. In spring that coat is shed. They also use their hooves or muzzle to forage for plants under the snow. Hares that live up in northern areas have large hind feet.

This helps them travel on top of the snow. Some birds have feather-covered feet like socks for winter. Marvels of adaptation all manage to face the cold and live among snow and ice. 

False spring

All these facets of nature are marvelous and intriguing but they are also subject to the changing weather. Some of those animals might migrate further up north and be greeted by conditions that even with all those years of evolution, might not cope very well. Plants are already blooming early, lulled into a false sense of spring, only to be met by a new period of chill in March.

Because plants bloomed early, they were not pollinated, and thus no seeds were produced. Many farmers lost crops this way in past years. Migrating animals come back and find less food or some may emerge out of hibernation early and also find a dire situation. 

In conclusion

As simple as it may be to be grateful that there is no more snow slush or less time spent on cleaning the driveway, the simple fact is that such a small change impacts many facets of the ecosystem. We see their effects every year, as they slowly creep upon us.

Weather patterns undulate and fluctuate so that some years may have extreme snow conditions. In the long run, however many signs point to no more snow on Christmas day for many areas.

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