The groundhog somehow got it right. The earliest spring in a century is coming our way. This is true in two ways: firstly, due to the nature of the Earth’s rotation around the sun, we’re seeing the Spring Equinox fall on March 19, a few hours earlier than it normally would.
However, the part that everyone cares about, the onset of warmer weather, is also coming earlier this year.
In fact, warmer weather has been coming earlier and earlier every year for decades now. The reason? Well, if you guessed “global climate change,” congratulations, you’re right. Despite some politicians vehemently denying its existence, the climate crisis continues to have a remarkable impact upon Earth’s weather patterns.
The spring weather coming in earlier and earlier in the year is nice for humans. After all, who wants cold days, bitter wind and snow? Melting ice, blooming flowers and a nice spring breeze make any day better. However, humans aren’t the only species that cares about the weather. A number of organisms rely on the changing seasons to calibrate their internal clocks.
For instance, insects, birds and some mammals change their behavior drastically based on the heat and the length of day. But when the shorter winter days become unseasonably warm, a number of natural systems can get out of whack. Some birds may migrate too early but find little food when they return to the North, as few insects have emerged from the still-frozen ice.
Bears may awake from hibernation to find that few other things that they eat have done the same. Plants could bloom early due to a warm spell, but then get killed by a sudden cold snap. These shifts could prove disastrous for some ecosystems.
Human activity is likely responsible for these changes in weather patterns, according to most climate scientists. Primarily, factories and automobiles contribute millions of tons of greenhouse gas emissions to the atmosphere every year. This has a runaway affect on the ozone layer and on the Earth’s atmosphere.
Where once the planet saw more distinct seasons, the rampant warming pattern we’re currently seeing threatens to all but obliterate the gradual changes of spring and fall. Instead, we’re likely to see longer, drier and more extreme summers followed by bitterly cold, vicious winters. While there is still some time to reverse the growing trends, many scientists believe time could be running short faster than we previously anticipated.