Despite the effects of climate change, the Adirondack region has managed to retain enough snow cover to permit the continuation of most winter sports. Unfortunately, the duration the winter season continues to be condensed, with less snow during the hunting and an abbreviated ice fishing season.
According to the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), global temperatures for the year of 2011, currently rank as the tenth highest since records were first established in 1850.
Scientists, who believe global warming is responsible for the continuing drop in Arctic sea ice, watched as the ice pack reached its lowest recorded levels again this year. Climate change is happening, and it appears to be accelerating. Doubters should consider the facts.
Until 2011 is retired to the history books, the top ‘Hottest Years on the Planet” occurred in 2010, 1998, 2005, 2003, 2002, 2009, 2004, 2006, 2007, and 2001.
Our wild weather is also getting windier. Six of the top ten wind records have been established since 1998. The last ten Spring seasons, spanning the years from 2002-2011 were among the windiest and driest 10-year period on record, capping a clear upward trend that began in the mid-1990s.
While skeptics remains, it is obvious that the climate has changed. Anyone who spends time outdoors has come to recognize that the weather is getting both warmer, and wetter and windier.
It stands to reason that water will evaporate more rapidly as temperatures continue to rise, and temperatures will increase. This increase in evaporation will result in greater and more frequent precipitation.
Fortunately, the majority of our local precipitation came as snow last winter, but when it did rain; it came down in buckets. Eventually, last year’s snowpack combined with the heavy spring rains to cause flooding that raised havoc from the High Peaks to Lake Champlain, and beyond.
The spring floods of 2011 were responsible for establishing new records across the region for both lake and river levels. And while the spring floods were labeled as “100 year flood” events, heavy rains in the early fall of 2011, soon eclipsed them with a “500 year flood” event. Fortunately, the most recent floods were not compounded by a dense snowpack. The heavy rains were enough to cause severe damage, all alone.
After reviewing articles that I've written at the completion of the Big Game Hunting Season, since 2000, the anecdotal evidence of climate change is painfully obvious. Here are a few to consider.
2000: End of the hunt- The unpredictable fall weather continues to confound hunters… with weather changing from 10 degrees below and snow to 45 degrees and rain…the grass is still green with no snowflakes in sight, even the hills are no longer white.
2001: With the end of the season quickly approaching, warm weather combined with a lack of snow has stunted deer movement. The major complaint coming from hunters was the fact that the “woods remained brown” for the majority of the season.
2002: With no snow, the primary woodland color remains brown, another distinct advantage for the deer. Rain, which is expected by the weekend, further compounds the hunter’s disadvantage as it keeps scent low to the ground and generally makes for uncomfortable travel.
2003: With the continued warm weather patterns and the lack of snow, the Regular Big Game Hunting season drawing to a close on Sunday; it appears this year will be one of the brownest in recent memory, as the snow cover has been quite scarce throughout the entire hunting season.
2004: Deer hunters lament the continuation of the unseasonably warm weather. The weather continues to confound hunters while other outdoor enthusiasts such as anglers, hikers, bikers and birders delight in the current conditions. Thanksgiving passed without a trace of snow, as weather patterns delivered heavy rains, high winds and warmer than average temperatures. The weather just didn’t cooperate with hunters this year.
2005: The weather has remained balmy with no snow in sight. Even in the high country, the remaining snows have melted due to weather conditions more typical of June than December. I gaze out the window in the last throes of the season and the thermometer reads 63 degrees. I watch as winds gusting rip limbs off the trees in my side yard.
2006: The Regular Big Game season will conclude at sunset on Sunday, December 7 in the Northern Zone and reports concerning hunter success are mixed. Hunters continue to lament autumn’s unseasonably warm weather, which has disrupted the hunting season and stunted the movement of wildlife.
2007: As I write this column, a heavy snow continues to fall. Although a consistent tracking snow was lacking for the majority of the hunting season, conditions have been far better than the previous four seasons…. when last weekend’s storm subsided on Saturday evening, deer that had been down for two days were finally on the move
2008: The unusual weather patterns, with warmer temperatures and a lack of consistent snow, are now the standard in most areas of the Adirondacks. It would be difficult for any North Country hunter to question the reality of climate change as it has become as obvious as the brown ground underfoot.
2009: The Last Big Hunt: Thanksgiving weekend has long been considered a benchmark that signals the rapid transition from fall to winter. However, it has not been a very reliable indicator. This season, hunters have gone without any significant snow cover. It's been another brown season.
2010: The northern zone big game hunting season, will end with less than a full week of snow on the ground. It was not unexpected. For years, the big game season has remained nearly snowless.
2011: Ditto the remarkable remarks listed above.
Joe Hackett is a guide and sportsman residing in Ray Brook. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org