A new study has found that if emissions continue as they currently are, summers in the Northern Hemisphere could last nearly six months by 2100. Scientists say that this shift will likely have significant impacts on agriculture, the environment, human health and the timing of species’ activities such as breeding, feeding and migration.
What is Happening?
- The study, published in the journal Geophysical Research Letters, was led by scientists at the State Key Laboratory of Tropical Oceanography in China and analysed six decades of historical daily climate records. The team then used climate models to project future trends.
- The study defined summer as the “onset of temperatures in the hottest 25% during that time period, while winter began with temperatures in the coldest 25%.” It found that on average, the number of summer days in the Northern Hemisphere jumped from 78 to 95 between 1952 and 2011. Winter, meanwhile, decreased from 76 to 73 days over the same period. Spring contracted from 124 to 115 days, and autumn from 87 to 82 days.
- If these trends continue, the scientists projected that by 2100, summers will last almost six months out of the year, winter will shrink by two months and spring and autumn will shrink as well. This extension of summer will bring more intense heat waves and extreme weather events like droughts and wildfires.
- Seasonal changes can also wreak havoc on agriculture, especially when false springs or late snowstorms damage budding plants. Additionally, with longer growing seasons, humans will breathe in more allergy-causing pollen, and disease-carrying mosquitoes can expand their range northward.
You might also like: Tech Companies Sign Pact to Tackle Climate Change
Yuping Guan, a physical oceanographer at the State Key Laboratory of Tropical Oceanography and lead author of the new study, said in a statement, “Summers are getting longer and hotter while winters shorter and warmer due to global warming. Numerous studies have already shown that the changing seasons cause significant environmental and health risks.