The best of EcoWatch, right in your inbox. Sign up for our email newsletter!
NOAA's Interactive Maps Show How Your Climate Is Changing
The maps are based off of the official U.S. Climate Normal, which are updated every 10 years and last updated in 2010. By averaging the coldest days each year for the 30-year window and sorting those averages into 10-degree Fahrenheit "planting zone" bins, they were able to make a continuous map with similar minimum temperatures between the two time periods.
This map shows the planting zones between 1971 and 2000.
This map shows the planting zones between 1981 and 2010.
As a whole it may not look like much has changed. But, when you zoom in on your region, you'll see that those slight changes made a huge difference. The 1970s was an unusually cool decade, while the 10 year period between 2001 and 2010 was the warmest ever recorded, causing for drastic shifts. For this reason, according to NOAA, planting zones have shifted northward and upward in elevation in many parts of the country, because warming winter nights are allowing plants to migrate. This is evident in the third map, which shows shifts in planting zones:
By basing it off of winter averages, we know that plants that used to survive in the region, may no longer make it in these changing times. Some plants need a long enough winter to go into dormancy and return in the spring to flower while other plants can't survive at all in sub-freezing temperatures. Climate.gov said these changes are also causing longer and more severe wildfire seasons, and allowing pests to thrive and spread to what used to be colder regions. Overall, this could be having adverse effects on pollination patterns, the food chain and ultimately the biodiversity of any given region.
"Species, including many iconic species, may disappear from regions where they have been prevalent or become extinct, altering some regions so much that their mix of plant and animal life will become almost unrecognizable," reported the Third National Climate Assessment in 2014.
These new "climate normals" can help people know exactly what to plant to ensure their garden is a healthy environment for native species.
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
By Emily Deanne
Shower shoes? Check. Extra-long sheets? Yep. Energy efficiency checklist? No worries — we've got you covered there. If you're one of the nation's 12.1 million full-time undergraduate college students, you no doubt have a lot to keep in mind as you head off to school. If you're reading this, climate change is probably one of them, and with one-third of students choosing to live on campus, dorm life can have a big impact on the health of our planet. In fact, the annual energy use of one typical dormitory room can generate as much greenhouse gas pollution as the tailpipe emissions of a car driven more than 156,000 miles.
By Lorraine Chow
Kokia drynarioides is a small but significant flowering tree endemic to Hawaii's dry forests. Native Hawaiians used its large, scarlet flowers to make lei. Its sap was used as dye for ropes and nets. Its bark was used medicinally to treat thrush.
States that invest heavily in renewable energy will generate billions of dollars in health benefits in the next decade instead of spending billions to take care of people getting sick from air pollution caused by burning fossil fuels, according to a new study from MIT and reported on by The Verge.
Hawaii's Kilauea volcano could be gearing up for an eruption after a pond of water was discovered inside its summit crater for the first time in recorded history, according to the AP.
By Kristin Ohlson
From where I stand inside the South Dakota cornfield I was visiting with entomologist and former USDA scientist Jonathan Lundgren, all the human-inflicted traumas to Earth seem far away. It isn't just that the corn is as high as an elephant's eye — are people singing that song again? — but that the field burgeons and buzzes and chirps with all sorts of other life, too.
Humanity faced its hottest month in at least 140 years in July, the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) said on Thursday. The finding confirms similar analysis provided by its EU counterparts.
By Hans Nicholas Jong
Indonesia's president has made permanent a temporary moratorium on forest-clearing permits for plantations and logging.
It's a policy the government says has proven effective in curtailing deforestation, but whose apparent gains have been criticized by environmental activists as mere "propaganda."