“Summers are getting longer and hotter while winters shorter and warmer due to global warming,” said Yuping Guan, lead author of the study.
Sure, longer summers may sound great for a family vacation or enjoying the outdoors, but this extended season could significantly impact our health, the environment and agriculture.
Heat waves could grow longer, mosquito-borne illnesses could become more widespread, allergy season from pollen could turn more severe and the growing season of crops will be longer.
The study reveals that warming temperatures globally are making the hottest quarter of the year, known as summer, longer, and this is also affecting when all the seasons start.
“The onsets of spring and summer are advanced, while the onsets of autumn and winter are delayed,” the study says.
The study splits the four seasons into four percentiles, with any temperature above the 75th percentile of the 1952-2011 temperature average being recognized as summer. Climate computer models are then operated to reveal how these defined seasons change over time.
“Over the period of 1952-2011, the length of summer increased from 78 to 95 days and that of spring, autumn and winter decreased from 124 to 115, 87 to 82 and 76 to 73 days, respectively,” the study states.
Most regions across the Northern Hemisphere have been experiencing longer summers already, but in the Mediterranean region it is growing by more than eight days per 10 years since the 1950s. This may not sound like much, but over a longer time scale it becomes more significant.
If nothing is done to mitigate these emissions to slow down the effects of climate change, then summer could evolve into lasting half a year by the end of this century, according to the study.
“Under the business-as-usual scenario, spring and summer will start about a month earlier than 2011 by the end of the century, autumn and winter start about half a month later, which result in nearly half a year of summer and less than two months of winter in 2100.”
What this means for you
Aside from the warming temperatures and shifting seasons, this does have implications on human life.
That includes agriculture. Spring is the season when plants begin to grow across parts of the US. The plants bud when they experience the warmer temperatures at the start of the season.
This time of year is also met with temperature variability, however, when one day may be warm while the next is cold. These temperature extremes are a common occurrence with climate change.
Starting spring a month earlier could mean disastrous losses for crops. Earlier weeks and months in the transition seasons could result in more drastic cold snaps following spring bud openings.
“For monsoon areas, shifting seasons can alter the time of monsoons. This means that patterns of monsoon rains are changed as well. These kind of changes may not sync with crops growth,” Guan told CNN.
The changing of the seasons will also affect wildfires and heat waves, likely increasing their occurrence.
“A hotter and longer summer will suffer more frequent and intensified high-temperature events — heatwaves and wildfires,” said Congwen Zhu, a researcher at the Chinese Academy of Meteorological Sciences who is unaffiliated with this study.