Climate Change Effects on Living Things - WAFB 9 News Baton Rouge, Louisiana News, Weather, Sports

Climate Change Effects on Living Things

Question:

Mark this date. This is the earliest (January!) I have heard insects and seen moths.  Is it because of the climate change or global warming?  What gives?

 

Answer:

Hmmm ... your mental calendar and powers of recollection are MUCH sharper than mine. But, what you may be noticing locally, indirectly, is an effect of El Nino (in my opinion) .. and NOT global warming!

Yep .. melting Arctic ice ... dengue fever in south Texas .. urban heat islands .. politicians on tour -- all signs of climate change, whether human-induced or not!

The common perception amongst "sound bite" scientists is that El Nino tends to make south Louisiana cooler-than-normal, on average, in winter.

BUT the devil is in the details. "Cooler-than-normal"? Well, yeah, maybe ... but often misleading. One way to make the average temp cooler is to simply lower the daytime highs and leave the nighttime temps close to nighttime norms. Since the "average" is the statistic mean of both highs and lows, simply lowering one of the two terms reduces the average.

Several years ago I showed how El Nino winters tend to have fewer really COLD nights (those bitter Arctic outbreaks) in south Louisiana.  There's not a complete lack of them .. just fewer.

And, since El Nino winters tend to be wet .. and "wet" comes from clouds, most folks can understand why the daytime temps tend to be lower, thanks to the increased cloud cover blocking mid-day sun.

In fact, we tend to see fewer of those unusually WARM days (say 10 degrees above the afternoon norm) in El Nino winters and springs.

Now ... bugs (oh, and most vegetation!) tend to respond more to the MINIMUMs, not the MAXIMUMs. Fewer hard freezes would suggest higher survivability, and more "bugs-begetting-more-bugs".

This winter [2006-2007] fits the bill ... we did have a run of near-record cold days in early December ... but since then, "mild" has been the operative word up until the last week or so. And even this last week, while cool, has certainly not been COLD -- cool afternoons, but only minor, brief freezes on two mornings. And we are well-behind the normal number of freezes for the past 6 weeks -- freezes tending to serve as the bug zappers.

I am of a mind that man can largely mitigate climate change impacts .. if he chooses to. But we must choose "wisely."

"Smart" technology can trump Mother Nature in many cases ... but "smart" means also making wise decisions about where NOT to challenge her. In some situations, she will always win, because she has eternity on her side!

Jay Grymes
Chief Meteorologist
WAFB Storm Team

Powered by WorldNow