Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Another Crappy Day For Me And The Lemmings

Typical of the last few years, another snow storm followed by a warming period. The next few days will be wet and in the mid 40s, all but ensuring our 2 foot base of snow at the lower elevations of the Hudson and Mohawk Valley regions will be gone. Does anyone remember when this region of the country had snow cover for most of the winter?

As I noted a few blogs ago, the snowfall totals for this region of the country are only a little off the long term (40 year) averages.

However, we've lost about 9 days of snow cover in that time. 9 days is fairly significant when you consider the winter season is only 90 something days, it's a 10% loss of snow cover days!

The loss of snow cover due to the thaw cycles that are a result of regional or global warming. The odd thing about the thaw cycles is we as humans tend to only think about them in terms of how it has an impact on our lives.  Me, I'm thinking, no skiing close to home. So now I have to drive an hour north, and up to a little elevation to get my skiing. I'm thinking the base of the ice climbs will be on the rocks, and scree, making belays more treacherous. I'm thinking ice is taking a beating, and ice climbing guides who make a living off our diverse yet wintery climate are seeing less days of work per year.  I'm thinking the ski resorts, and snowmobile towns are going to be hurting. That upstate NY and the North Country in particular is largely a recreation based economy, and the winter season is not an off season, but a peak season for revenues for some of these towns.

Recently I read a study that showed that in Scandinavia (and possibly elsewhere with different species) the lemming is in danger of becoming extinct because of the freeze thaw cycles that are a fairly recent common occurrence. The lemming used to burrow under the snow and store it's food for the winter. With the thaw cycles the lemming lodges collapse, and freeze the lemmings winter food sources solid for the winter. The lemmings eventually starve to death.

Now without the lemmings, the owls and foxes lose a major food source, and then an entire ecosystem starts a downward cascade.

So if global warming isn't real, can someone tell the lemming that!

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