Quantcast
Environmental News for a Healthier Planet and Life

Help Support EcoWatch

NOAA's Interactive Maps Show How Your Climate Is Changing

Popular
NOAA's Interactive Maps Show How Your Climate Is Changing
NOAA

New interactive maps from NOAA show you how your region's vegetation has shifted due to climate change.


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.

Reintroducing wolves is on the ballot in Colorado. Gunner Ries / Wikimedia Commons / CC by 3.0

By Tara Lohan

Maybe we can blame COVID-19 for making it hard to hit the streets and gather signatures to get initiatives on state ballots. But this year there are markedly fewer environmental issues up for vote than in 2018.

While the number of initiatives may be down, there's no less at stake. Voters will still have to make decisions about wildlife, renewable energy, oil companies and future elections.

Here's the rundown of what's happening where.

Read More Show Less

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

A health care worker holds a test for patients suspected of being infected with coronavirus at the Center Health Vicoso Jardim on April 30, 2020 in Niteroi, Brazil. Luis Alvarenga / Getty Images

By Alexander Freund

The World Health Organization, along with its global partners in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic, has announced that it will provide 120 million rapid-diagnostic antigen tests to people in lower- and middle-income countries over the next six months. The tests represent a "massive increase" in testing worldwide, according to the Global Fund, a partnership that works to end epidemics.

Read More Show Less

Trending

U.S. President Donald Trump and Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden participate in the first presidential debate moderated by Fox News anchor Chris Wallace at the Health Education Campus of Case Western Reserve University on Sept. 29, 2020 in Cleveland, Ohio. Scott Olson / Getty Images

The first presidential debate seemed like it would end without a mention of the climate crisis when moderator Chris Wallace brought it up at the end of the night for a segment that lasted roughly 10 minutes.

Read More Show Less
Columbia Basin pygmy rabbits. Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife

The wildfires that roared through Eastern Washington in September had a devastating impact on an extremely endangered species of rabbit.

Read More Show Less
A protestor in NYC holds up a sign that reads, "November Is Coming" on June 14, 2020 in reference to voting in the 2020 presidential election. Ira L. Black / Corbis / Getty Images

By Mark Hertsgaard

What follows are not candidate endorsements. Rather, this nonpartisan guide aims to inform voters' choices, help journalists decide what races to follow, and explore what the 2020 elections could portend for climate action in the United States in 2021 and beyond.

Read More Show Less

Support Ecowatch