2014 – the warmest year – opportunities and consequences

2014 was the warmest year in Britain recorded since national records began in 1910 and it was the warmest year in central England since 1659.

2014 was also the 4th wettest year since 1910 and amazingly (but perhaps unsurprisingly!) 5 of the 6 wettest years have occured since the year 2000. See this for more details.

The climate is on the move and the results can clearly be seen in nature – however if this trend continues unabatted the consequences will be severe and perhaps irreversible …..

I reported late last year on the arrival of Roesel’s bush – cricket in Devon – a climate change opportunist – see here. I have also regularly detailed the arrival of new species of insect – see my maps here on the spread of the long-winged cone-head since the 1990s in Devon.

There was also recently an article in British Birds magazine (see here) on the arrival and the potential arrival of wetland birds in the UK and what we could and and should be doing to encourage them.

The species described above have all  arrived naturally but other species particularly those which have been brought here for horticultural purposes escape from formal gardens into the wider countryside.

Winter heliotrope is a good example of this – first brought to the UK in 1806 and had escaped into the wild by 1835 – today it has spread widely into southern Britain.

WH1It is now a common species in Devon and rather unusually it flowers in the winter i.e. now

WH2Unusually again it is not very frost resistant which explains its southern UK distribution

 

WHMap courtesy of the National Biodiversity Network

So warmer temperatures are likely to encourage this species to spread further – it is perhaps a welcome splash of colour to our otherwise drab winter but unfortunately its large leaves does shade out and reduce our native flora.

Another consequence of warmer weather is the earlier flowering of our native plants – I have seen hazel catkins in Devon in December and it is now flowering today everywhere at Parke. I have also heard of lesser celandine in flower in the Cotswolds but haven’t yet seen it in Devon.

Have you seen any unusal flowering plants yet this year? Primrose, for example?

Also interesting and perhaps worrying to note that the birds have already started their dawn choruses….. get up at 6.30am and you will hear what I mean.

4 thoughts on “2014 – the warmest year – opportunities and consequences

  1. I am still trying to identify the plant that I facetiously referred to as a doricum in my post ‘Doricum spotted to Wales’ posted on 15 th September 2014, I suspect it is a feral garden plant but no one yet has identified it — can you?

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