Our planet is warming very rapidly.
In 2016 our precious Earth was 1.69 degrees Fahrenheit (0.94 Celsius) warmer than the 20th century average, according to National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration figures released on Wednesday. That may not sound like much, but on a planetary scale it’s a profound shift that has decimated coral reefs, thawed polar ice at a near-catastrophic rate, and nudged agricultural planting zones across national borders.
This year follows on from another extremely hot year in 2015.
The average recorded temperature across the surface of the planet in 2015 was so far above normal that it set a record for setting records. The year was more than a quarter of a degree Fahrenheit warmer than the last global heat record — set back in 2014—according to National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration figures.
A quarter of a degree may not sound like much, but on a planetary scale it’s a huge leap. Most previous records were measured by hundredths of a degree. The implications of this latest climate record are quite extraordinary:
2015 was the first full year to break the 1C barrier above pre-industrial levels – a key benchmark for warming.
Much of the warming has happened in the past 35 years, says Nasa, with 15 of the 16 warmest years on record occurring since 2001. And Dr Thomas Karl, who directs the administration’s National Centers for Environmental Information, said current conditions would likely lead to 2016 being as warm as – if not warmer than – 2015.
GARDENING IN A CHANGING CLIMATE
The effects of climate change on our weather and seasons is already being felt on a daily basis by UK gardeners.
They are witnessing the climate changing outside their back doors and seeing the shift in the extreme weather conditions .
In 2015 UK gardens experienced the warmest December in the UK with an average temperature of 7.9C – a staggering 4.1C higher than the long-term average. Daffodils and blossom were seen as plants were triggered to flower by very high winter temperatures.
The rapidly changing climate means that the range of plants we can grow in the UK is having to diversify.
The RHS encourages gardeners to take steps that adapt our gardens to climate change and offer excellent information on their web-site.