What is winter, and how do we adapt?
Wx and the City
It's no wonder that we eat so much on Thanksgiving. Biologically, we are stocking up for winter. I'm of the mindset that winter holidays add some feeling of abundance to the dark, cold, windy, season.
Regions that have true winter (average below 30 degrees Fahrenheit for at least three months each year) are scattered around northern latitudes of the globe. The mid-Atlantic region happens to fall just below this line. Though we experience a season very close to true winter, our winter weather can be swayed.
During the winter months, we are under a combat zone between cold Arctic air masses descending from Canada and warm, humid tropical air masses moving north from the Gulf of Mexico. This constant flux (and occasional clash) between such different air masses leads to a huge range of possible conditions, and necessitates being well-adapted and prepared for nearly any type of weather throughout the season.
Wildlife has various ways of adapting to winter: monarchs migrate, hedgehogs hibernate and wood frogs turn into tiny blobs of amphibian antifreeze. Those animals that inhabit our region and that have adapted to staying the course during winter have fascinating ways of living with both cold temperatures and weather fluctuations.
Take the groundhog, for example -- a year-round resident of the D.C. region (much to some property owners' dismay). Groundhogs are one of the few species that go through a true hibernation period in winter, including lowering their heart rate, respiration and body temperature to conserve energy in freezing temperatures. Chipmunks go through a process close to hibernation, but can awake and become active during warm streaks of winter.
Like it or not, humans are also animals, albeit complicated ones. How do we adapt? Coats, hats and mittens are one way. Spending longer periods of time indoors is another.
Ecologically, winter speaks of slowing down. American culture suggests that we speed up over the next month as we gear up for the winter holidays, during a time when other animals are beginning hibernation. When, if at all, do we slow down with winter tightening its grip? And how do we adapt? Have you noticed any interesting animal (including human) behaviors with the arrival of cold temperatures and our first snow?
| December 8, 2009; 12:00 PM ET
Categories: Posegate, Wx and the City
Save & Share: Previous: Another Saturday snow possibility
Next: PM Update: Rain, and lots of it, through the night
Posted by: mandarb77 | December 8, 2009 12:37 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: madisondc | December 8, 2009 1:10 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: LCFC | December 8, 2009 1:18 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: kallieh | December 8, 2009 2:13 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: spgass1 | December 8, 2009 10:17 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: omarthetentmaker | December 9, 2009 7:07 AM | Report abuse
Posted by: Jason-CapitalWeatherGang | December 9, 2009 9:04 AM | Report abuse
Posted by: omarthetentmaker | December 9, 2009 9:35 AM | Report abuse
The comments to this entry are closed.