It has been a rather strange year. After another dry winter – March arrived and was one of the warmest and driest on record; consequently, many of us were threatened with restrictions (on hosepipes etc) as a severe drought threatened – many reservoirs were very low on water.
But then came April, which was one of the wettest recorded in the UK. Some 121.8 mm of rain fell, beating the previous record of 120.3 mm -which was set in 2000; some parts of the U.K. had three times the ‘normal’ amount of rainfall. June was also very wet and set a record. There then followed the wettest summer as a whole since 1912. The final rainfall figures for the year have been released and the total rainfall for the UK during 2012 was 1,330.7 mm (52.4in), just 6.6mm short of the record set in 2000.
The big winners in these wet conditions were slugs – including the giant Spanish super slug, or Spanish stealth slug that was reported to be invading gardens. These have an ‘enhanced’ breeding cycle producing many more eggs Read more…
Throughout the twentieth century, stations like that at Manua Loa have monitored the level of carbon dioxide in the air. It is clear that atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide have risen from about from about 300 ppm in the 1960’s to nearly 400 ppm by 2010.
However, if we look back some 480 million years (to the Ordivician Period) the level of carbon dioxide was some sixteen times higher than the present level and the average global temperature was about 25 oC, that is, about 10 oC higher than today’s average. So how and why has global temperature fallen ? Read more…
Butterfly Conservation UK and the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology have been involved in the monitoring the status of butterflies through various citizen science schemes*. UK butterflies (and indeed, birds) are probably the best-studied wildlife groups thanks to the dedication of an enormous workforce of highly skilled and committed volunteer recorders. Butterflies and birds have been observed and recorded in detail for many, many years and these detailed records and counts yield an invaluable resource of information for the analysis of population change(s).
The trend in the weather since the 1980’s has been for a general increase in temperature. Perhaps, in consequence, new species of dragonfly and damselfly have arrived in Britain from the warmer climates of Southern Europe.
The following species have been recorded to date
- the Willow Emerald
- the Southern Migrant Hawker
- the Southern Emerald Damselfly
- the Vagrant Emperor
- the Small red-eyed Damselfly and
- the Dainty Damselfly.
The Countryside Commission had the idea of creating a new ‘National Forest’ in 1987 – to give a tangible expression of the benefits of trees and woodlands. It also has a practical role in terms of demonstrating the importance of carbon fixation (through photosynthesis) and the importance of this in the amelioration of climate change.
The National Forest was and is a bold project, focusing on some 200 square miles of central England (parts of Derbyshire, Leicestershire and Staffordshire). The area includes farmland and the relics of coalfields & mineral workings, with some pockets of ancient woodland – for example, Charnwood Forest to the east and Needwood Forest to the west. A map of the area of the National Forest can be seen here . Read more…
Public access has dominated the debate on the proposed Forestry Commission (FC) forestry disposals, but behind the official documents there are a few less obvious but perhaps important implications:
The government don’t really trust the Forestry Commission, DEFRA or even politicians any longer as owners of the forests. There have been some kind words said publicly about current management but it is clear from what’s being proposed that the government want to get this land out of FC hands just as soon as possible. Read more…
The wholesale destruction of ancient woodland through farming and forestry has diminished but new roads, bypasses and the installation of infra-structure & services (such as utilities & power lines) can still be a problem. In recent times, new or different threats to ancient woodlands have emerged to upset the balance of woodland ecosystems.
In the 1960’s and early 70’s concern focussed on the effects of air and acid rain pollution . Such pollution was characterised by the deposition of sulphur dioxide and its derivatives (sulphuric & sulphurous acid), plus various nitrogen oxides. Read more…
Generally speaking, the sight of butterflies marks the return of spring sunshine and the warmth associated with long summer days. However, after three wet summers in a row, some of our rarest butterflies are under threat. The summers of 2007 and 2008 were characterised by very wet weather, and July and August last year were marked by above average rainfall. Butterflies that have been particularly affected by the wet weather are the :- Read more…