phenology fi-ˈnä-lə-jē n 1 : a branch of science dealing with the relations between climate and periodic biological phenomena (such as bird migration or plant flowering) 2: periodic biological phenomena that are correlated with climatic conditions.
We are on the brink of the official start of summer, although many of us may be feeling a bit like summer has been here for several weeks. This spring has simply felt different than the last few years, but is that really true?
Over the last three years, we all experienced the devastating COVID-19 pandemic. I was not alone in feeling exceedingly uncertain, anxious, and scared about the things happening all over the world throughout this time. Were these feelings influencing the memories I was creating about the weather? Was the doom and gloom in my head manifesting in my view of the world around me?
The official end of the Federal COVID-19 Public Health Emergency was declared on May 11, 2023. While COVID-19 has not disappeared and many things have changed, the world certainly feels more open and many folks are reclaiming pieces of their lives that they’ve had to shelve away during the pandemic. The Olympic Peninsula’s vibrant festival scene has arrived in full force and our community is now able to return to gathering. Has the weather really been sunnier or is it just my outlook? Did the flowers bloom early or am I just in a headspace where I’m actually noticing them?
I chose to look at Port Angeles weather data from the past few years so I could compare it to my own relatively recent memory. All graphs were provided by © WeatherSpark.com.
Here are a few general observations:
- There were several unseasonably warm days in May this year. In fact, on May 15th Port Angeles reached a May record high of 86°F.
- It seems that we had significantly less cloud cover this year than in the last few years.
- We only had one day with significant rain this May.
In this case it turns out that my memory was somewhat right, but it got me thinking about the ways that our memories can be influenced. How do our perceptions reflect what’s actually happening?
As it turns out, this is a problem when it comes to human recognition of climate change. A recent study has shown that unprecedented weather caused by climate change is making it harder for people to accept the overall concept of anthropogenic climate change by altering the idea of “normal” weather. Go figure!
That being said, I am so grateful that there are professionals working hard to document the changes happening and help us better prepare for the future. Interested in how North Olympic Land Trust is preparing for climate change in our region? Check out our Climate Resilience Alliance with Jefferson Land Trust!
From the desk of Lexi Wagor, Community Relations Manager
Moore, Frances C., et al. “Rapidly Declining Remarkability of Temperature Anomalies May Obscure Public Perception of Climate Change.” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, vol. 116, no. 11, 25 Feb. 2019, pp. 4905–4910, www.pnas.org/content/pnas/116/11/4905.full.pdf, https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1816541116.
US Department of Commerce, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. “What Is the Difference between Weather and Climate?” Noaa.gov, 2019, oceanservice.noaa.gov/facts/weather_climate.html.