Experts predict a green Christmas

FORGET a white Christmas. We could have a green Christmas, if the unseasonally mild and gentle weather persists. Dr Tim Sparks, who studies climate change at the soon-to-close Centre for Ecology and Hydrology at Monks Wood, near Alconbury, says people are

FORGET a white Christmas. We could have a green Christmas, if the unseasonally mild and gentle weather persists.

Dr Tim Sparks, who studies climate change at the soon-to-close Centre for Ecology and Hydrology at Monks Wood, near Alconbury, says people are now able to enjoy the natural world in mid-October in a way the summer rains prevented.

"Sooner or later we shall get a green Christmas, when the trees are still in leaf," he told The Hunts Post yesterday (Tuesday). "In four of the past six or seven years there have still been leaves on the trees in December.

"So a green Christmas is not so much of a joke now. It will take only a delay in one or two frosts and we could have one. It's possible it will happen this year, but predicting long into the autumn is difficult - all you need is a gale."


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The combination of frosts and high winds, often accompanied by heavy rain, is usually enough to deliver heavy leaf-fall at this time of year.

"But because the temperatures are remaining up there's still lots of activity and growth," Dr Sparks said. "Lawns are still growing and people are still mowing, and the trees are unseasonally green. We are still getting butterflies and other insects flying."

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The extended lifespans of the insects have meant delay to the winter migration of swallows and martins, which feed on them in mid-flight, to Africa.

"Because of the wet summer, things have lasted longer, and there are lots of fungi, such as mushrooms.

"I've scraped my windscreen only once this year. We haven't really had a frost yet.

"The oaks here are incredibly green and probably will be for another month or longer - but a sharp frost or a gale could change all that," he added.

"We are hoping it will be a wonderful autumn, and people will get out and enjoy themselves, which they couldn't do in the summer. Things are looking promising."

The Woodland Trust, which says the summer was the seventh wettest on record, is predicting a spectacular autumn.

"Nature has had an interesting year," said a spokesman. "For a starter it's been a wonderful year, giving bumper crops of blackberries, rowan berries and elderberries, with plump crops still hanging from the trees and bushes. This is good news for bird (and sometimes human) populations who'll be able to gorge themselves ready for winter."

Autumn is becoming one of the longest seasons in the calendar, the trust says.

Who will be the first to spot three wise men on lawn mowers on a Christmas card?

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