Communicating Ocean Change: Plants and Climate Change

Communicating Ocean Change is a bi-weekly discussion-starter intended for individuals who are interested in exploring ways of communicating the complex science of ocean change. It is created for an internal audience at the New England Aquarium, but also shared here with colleagues across the country.

Question for interpreters: Are there local climate changes that touch you in your daily life, and can you use them as an example in your conversations?

Yesterday I stopped at my local garden center to pick up some veggie seeds to get started, and was chatting with the woman about when they'll be ready to transplant outside.  This obviously led us to talking about the unusually warm winter we've had, and (big surprise) climate change. 

She told me that in terms of timing for planting my veggies, our area has been re-zoned by the USDA for growing seasons/plant hardiness, and showed me this map. Plant hardiness zones are an indicator of the coldest temperature zones in a particular region, and helps guide the decision-making process behind which plants can and should be planted, and when.

I went home and researched it, and sure enough our zone for the growing season has bumped up.  The Washington Post wrote about the change a week or two ago in this article, which discusses the shifting norms.  An interesting, concrete example of changes we're seeing right in our own backyards!  Good info to have for interpreting about climate change on the floor.