Monday, March 11, 2013

Record setting heat across the US in 2012

It’s probably nothing new to all who experienced it, but 2012 was a very hot year for most of the US.  The graphic above from the New York Times (Accuweather and NOAA sources), shows how much of the US was affected.  For whatever reason, the Louisville portion of the Ohio River Valley was not as affected as greatly.

Going back to my earlier post, it’s interesting to note that the author Dr. Nir Krakauer noted that the winters are warming faster than the summers.  So what does this mean?  Well, it could mean that the plants in our area could be more hardy because the winters have been trending to be more mild.  It could mean that natives could be more marginalized and that invasives, which may already be suited for a longer growing season, could become even more aggressive.

Does this mean I’m designing for orange and banana trees?  No, but I’m less fearful for plants that are borderline hardy for our area.  It also means I’ll be watching the native plants more closely to see how they will do with our warmer weather.

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Wednesday, January 09, 2013

Is the 2012 plant hardiness map already out of date?!

(a)Gridded annual minimum temperature trend as that of 2011-2012, relative to the 1976–2005 mean, over the coterminous USA. (b) Change in trend annual minimum temperature between 1970-1971 and 2011-2012. 

Dr. Nir Krakauer has published an article that uses geostatistical analysis of temperatures to figure a new way to compute the difference between the average and the mean temperatures.  The Department of Agriculture uses the mean annual temperature over the last few decades (1976-2005) to calculate plant hardiness zones.  Dr. Krakauer uses trend estimation over a shorter period of time to deal with the variations we have had in the last few years.  He believes the average is already above the mean, so the current map that was revised in January of 2012 is already out of date!  The difference is shown in the maps above.  It’s interesting to note that the map is all trending warmer but it’s Appalachia that is getting warmer faster!  I guess it’s good to lead the nation in some regard…

Here is the map of Kentucky showing our current hardiness zones.

The whole US, and any particular state, can be found at

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Wednesday, January 02, 2013

Louisville 41st among cities with Walk Score

Walk Score rates how good a city or a neighborhood is for walking.  This involves being a connected with useable sidewalks and having great destinations.  Louisville ranks as 41st among large cities with a score of 40.  The highest city is New York with a score of 85.  But as you can imagine, there are neighborhoods in Louisville that rate just as high.  And not surprisingly, they have been stable neighborhoods with high home ownership and resale values.  Studies have shown that walkable neighborhoods make for healthier people, but also happier.  Perhaps there is something to making walkable neighborhoods.  The next step maybe to see where we can “grow” our walkable neighborhoods.

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