Monday, March 2, 2015

Frigid Field Trip

I'm teaching two Landscape Restoration classes on Fridays this term, first for 10 graduate-level landscape architecture students, and then for 27 undergraduate landscape architecture and horticulture students.  I escorted the two classes on a field trip at my preserve last Friday (February 27).

The trails in the preserve were (and still are) very icy.  Three of the graduate students slipped; none of the undergrads did, perhaps because by the time the undergrads showed up the sun had warmed the snow and ice a bit.

It was in the mid-teens F when we started out in the morning, but it was sunny and not too windy.  I had considered postponing the trip, but then decided to proceed as planned.  If I had postponed, who knows what the weather would have been like on the next scheduled date.

The last two weeks of February were the two coldest weeks ever recorded in Philadelphia - not just for February, but for any two-week period since records have been kept (1841).  February 2015 was also the fifth coldest February on record.

My Stewardship Assistant, Chris, explaining how he manages our native prairie
Yours truly in the midst of our oldest reforestation project (25 years this year)
The undergrads examining a lesion caused by the chestnut blight fungus on one of our American chestnut trees


packrat said...

Just reading your description of the weather and looking at those photos makes me shiver, Scott.

I'm sure Senator James Inhofe (R-OK), a climate-change denier, sees your record conditions as nothing more than proof we're entering another Ice Age.

Scott said...

Packrat: Lots of people around here are (jokingly) wondering what the heck happened to global warming.

robin andrea said...

It has been such a crazy and wildly cold winter there. I can't imagine what it must be like, especially since there's been nothing quite like it since record keeping began there. I've read somewhere over the years that calling the weather changes we're experiencing "global warming" was such a regrettable thing because it's global climate change. "Global warming" has given the numb-skulls, idiots, and thoughtless political hacks something stupid to rant about. I wish them well in their flooded coastlines, NOT.

Scott said...

Robin Andrea: Check out the link included in Packrat's comment, above, about the Republican's star climate denier.

You know, I honestly feel guilty every time my furnace comes on or I switch on a light anymore. Lots of my electricity come from nuclear (there's a big plant about 20 miles from me), but then I think about the problems with nuclear energy. I watched the new comedy called "Last Man on Earth" on Fox last Sunday evening (so-so); I've thought a lot recently about what would happen to the planet if humans suddenly disappeared, but this show dredged up some of my old thoughts. In most situations, human artifacts would become all but insignificant to life on the planet in fairly short order, but what about nuclear reactors? They would eventually breach, and the resultant effluvium would contaminate vast areas for millennia.

robin andrea said...

Scott- Several years ago I read an interesting book by Alan Weisman called The World Without Us. He explores how the world would change when humans are no longer here. It's a good read.

Scott said...

Robin Andrea: I have read "The World Without Us," and thought it was a good read, too, in terms of what Weisman covered. I didn't like his writing style, though--sort of a book-length magazine reporter's style. If I recall, he interviewed a lot of experts and reported on his findings; that strategy has become a bit tired and worn, in my opinion.

Mark P said...

I think I would like to go on one of your field trips.

I also saw the premier of the "Last Man on Earth". I think they had a few details wrong. For example, I doubt that a water storage tank would keep water for long after it was no longer being filled. In a city of any size, there is inevitably going to be leaky faucets and running toilets, and they add up over time.

Scott said...

You know, I hadn't thought about the leakage, Mark. Yesterday, on a locally-focused environment radio show here in Philadelphia, they traced a glass of water from its source to the tap in the city. Philadelphia loses 30% of its treated, potable water from leaks in the system (most leak occur between the mains and the individual residential home feeder lines). It wouldn't take long to drain the reservoirs with leakage like that. Philadelphia's loss is the third highest among the nations 50 largest cities; it's a good thing we're in the well-watered East! Las Vegas loses only 5%.