[NAFEX] Weather On Topic

Bob Randall YearRoundGardening at comcast.net
Mon Mar 30 12:51:32 EDT 2009


  People who grow fruit trees depend on predicting how warm or cold it  
will be and when, as well as how wet or dry it will be, and to some  
extent how windy it is.

Much of the planet's weather is caused by the contrast between the  
cold polar areas and the warm tropics. Warm areas have hotter air   
that rises and creates lower air pressure and colder areas have denser  
higher pressures.  Prevailing winds and ocean currents move the way  
they do seasonally in a significant way because of these differences  
as well.

Greenhouse gases are altering these temperatures and movements and  
therefore destabilizing wind, rain, and temperature patterns and  
making them more chaotic and from our perspective as fruit growers  
less predictable. This means that many--maybe all--places are seeing  
climatic disruption and change. Zones have moved north as have birds.  
Some areas will no doubt be colder--maybe much colder--or drier-- 
because protective warm currents change course (off the Pacific or  
Atlantic), or stop draining cold off the continent with their low  
pressure systems.  Others will be much warmer.

Here in Houston, we have five hot summer months (May to September). I  
looked up the years of the ten hottest Mays, Junes, Julys, Augusts,  
and Septembers for a total of 50. In the last 100 years, 32 of them  
were in the last 50 years and 18 in the previous 50 years. The last 20  
years (20% of the years) have had 16 of the hottest 50 (32% of the  
months).

At the same time, our winter lows have been warm. There are parts of  
the area that have not had a temperature below 30˚ in a decade, and  
there are mango trees in the Central City with trunks more than a foot  
in diameter.  For the last four years, I have had a coffee plant  
(arabica) and several papayas growing without protection and there are  
guavas on my tree in March.  Take a look at your maps and you will see  
that Houston is not supposed to be in zone 10--even in the National  
Arbor Day revised map.

We have had three major hurricanes cause disruption here in the last  
five years, and a tropical storm that dropped 20 inches in 2001.  The  
same Hurricane Ike that broke large branches in my yard, knocked out  
power in Southeastern Indiana and wrecked the roof of a friend's  
garage with a tree branch in Columbus Ohio.  I asked them how this  
compared with previous hurricanes. Both said Huh?

So weather isn't off topic, nor is changing climate.  But I think it  
would be good to pin down how this is changing in different parts of  
the country and how it is affecting fruit tree growing.

Bob Randall


On Mar 29, 2009, at 7:59 PM, Kevin Moore wrote:

> Much of that Co2 has been in the earth's core. For a long time we  
> had a wonderful balance between what was emitted through geologicl  
> action and what was sequestered through natural phenomenon such as  
> coral reefs. Now the oceans have become too warm to support the  
> coral, we have dug up and burned the ancient peats (coal) and oil.  
> Essentially we have put several million years' worth of CO2 into the  
> atmosphere in a matter of a couple of hundred years and overwhelmed  
> the natural systems' ability to absorb it.
>
> From: william Eggers <wce1482 at yahoo.com>
> To: North American Fruit Explorers <nafex at lists.ibiblio.org>
> Sent: Sunday, March 29, 2009 9:52:51 AM
> Subject: Re: [NAFEX] Weather (Off topic)
>
> I've always wondered about this CO2 business.  Since the earth is a  
> closed system, it looks like to me that we still have the same  
> amount of carbon that we have always had.  If so, how did we get so  
> much more that we are worring about it?
>
> --- On Sat, 3/28/09, Kieran &/or Donna <holycow at frontiernet.net>  
> wrote:
>
> From: Kieran &/or Donna <holycow at frontiernet.net>
> Subject: Re: [NAFEX] Weather (Off topic)
> To: "North American Fruit Explorers" <nafex at lists.ibiblio.org>
> Date: Saturday, March 28, 2009, 5:06 PM
>
> Well, I had some interesting thoughts the other day.  We had cut  
> down a 50 year old pine and I was thinking about how they'd used  
> these impossible-to-split virginia pines for making log cabins.   
> Next day I was walking in the neighboring field and thinking about  
> how it was all once virgin timber and that all the wimpy woodlands  
> surrounding it were huge old trees before the white man came.  Then  
> I wondered, "Where are those trees now?"  All the timber that was  
> cut down not just the first time, but all the times since, where did  
> they go?  Where are the houses, the barns, the fences that were  
> built with them?  Most have rotted away or burnt down, and they are  
> now existing as CO2 and water and some minerals in the soil or most  
> likely in the ocean.  What does THAT do to global temps?  I am only  
> too aware of what it does when you chop down all the trees and have  
> exposed soil or pavement or house roofs.  But the difference between  
> the amount of carbon that was in trees, not to mention what was in  
> the rich organic matter content of the soil... all that must be in  
> the atmosphere now.  Donna
>
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"Share What You Grow and What You Know!"

Bob Randall, Ph.D.
YearRoundGardening at comcast.net
713-661-9737



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