Climate Change in my Neighborhood

One of the reasons people have had trouble believing in man-made climate change has been the lack of symptoms. Things have changed, or we’ve passed a tipping point, because now everyone sees climate change around them. Summer in Europe turns Florence into an oven, while winter in some parts of the US doesn’t bring enough cold to kill the cockroaches.

This month, climate change is front and center on the beach. Where we spend Nov.-March in Peru there are two seasons. Cool (50s-60s) and humid winter weather runs from June-October, and sunny, hot (80s) summer from December-April. May and November are transitions from one season to the next. According to this scheme, February is mid-summer. If there is coastal mist in the morning it burns off by about 10 am, and doesn’t return until 4:30 pm. When we were here in early 2018, we agreed to buy a room air conditioner for the study if the weather continued to be so hot during the day. At night we were sleeping with two fans going.

We haven’t bought the air conditioner.

Most of February has been unusually misty, with coastal fog lasting all day as it does in the heart of winter, or breaking for an hour at midday. Even stranger are the days when the mist hangs along the coast until mid-afternoon, clearing from 3-4pm. The sun has been coming out just when beachgoers are heading home for a meal after hours spent on the beach (prime beach time is 11 am-3 pm). It has become impossible to predict when it’s time to go to the beach. In a beach community, this is an issue.

The people who rent umbrellas and beach chairs set up their first chairs and stake out their stretch of sand by 9 am, but there are days when no one comes to occupy their chairs until well into the afternoon. I like to go for a swim when the sun is out, yet some days the sun is back under the clouds by the time I get suited up, or worse, I give up on the idea of having a dip and then the sun comes out and roasts me wherever I am in the house. If I change my mind the sun will have disappeared again before I’m out the door.

I was on the beach waiting for a bit more sun before going into the water. I sat chatting with my neighbors who have a regular outpost of umbrellas and towels. I can tell where everyone is sitting even without my glasses. “Where’s the sun?!” I complained. “Right there,” a friend pointed upward. I looked, and there was a pale lemon colored dot in the sky. The sun was out, but heavily veiled by mist. We all noticed there was a halo around the sun, a large white circle with a hint of rainbow colors at the edges. Later, I read these are caused by high cirrus clouds between us and the sun, and the refraction of ice crystals in those clouds.

Every day is not cooler than normal, and the mist evaporates completely on many days, the sun comes out, and the day heats up, but the overall pattern is different than usual.

Most of my readers are in the depths of winter right now. Do you notice anything different from other years?


Published by winifredcreamer

I am a retired archaeologist and I like to travel, especially to places where you can walk along the shore or watch birds. My husband Jonathan and I travel for more than half the year every year, seeing all the places that we haven't gotten to yet.

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