A ‘false spring’ has tricked trees into blossoming, while low water levels at dams may be fertile breeding grounds for mosquito-borne diseases.
Thanks to temperatures above seasonal averages, some trees in Istanbul have flowered, victims of a ‘false spring’.
All around Turkey, temperatures are coasting above seasonal averages. In the country, average temperatures have been above seasonal averages with the exception of April, making 2020 a candidate for one of the hottest years on record.
Because of the higher than usual temperatures in Istanbul for December, some trees have started blooming at the end of the month.
Istanbul Technical University (ITU) Faculty of Aeronautics and Astronautics, Meteorology Engineering Department professor Huseyin Toros says that because of climate oscillations, from time to time the air waves would be hot or cold.
Saying 2020 was very hot and that there were record temperatures in Turkey, Toros pointed out that “even though we’re nearing the end of December, the heat waves continue. This year because autumn has been hot in Istanbul trees have started to blossom early.”
Toros continued by saying trees were fooled into thinking it was spring because of warmer temperatures than normal, and that this phenomenon was not unique to Istanbul:
“This phenomenon can be observed in other locations in Turkey. In recent years it’s more common to see plants flowering early. The average temperature in Istanbul these days is about 12-17. Usually in December the average temperature is about 8-9 degrees [Celsius]. Istanbul is experiencing the average temperatures of May right now. In the past, we used to see snow in Istanbul in December but nowadays trees are blooming and they are falling for the ‘false spring’.”
Toros also mentioned that the early blooming of trees had negatively affected the harvest in 2014, and that early blooming is a deterrent to crops.
Talking to Hurriyet Daily News, Doganay Tolunay from Istanbul University says “Normally, when the temperature is below 10 degrees, leaves fall from trees. When it is about 10 degrees, trees start to bloom. It is not normal to see trees blooming in December.”
“We do not have to look at the poles or the melting icebergs to know global warming. We see it happening on our streets,” Tolunay adds.
“The blooming of trees in December is a sign that we are experiencing a tropical climate,” says Murat Turkes from Bogazici University, stating “We are not living in the fall or spring anymore.”
Trees aren’t the only parts of nature that are affected by climate change. Daily Sabah reports that because of climate change, Turkey is going through a “prolonged dry spell” because of lack of precipitation at seasonal levels.
The pending drought in the near future means lower levels of water in dams and small ponds, and these may provide “a fertile ground for mosquito larvae to breed.”
According to Professor Levent Kurnaz, head of the Climate Change and Policies Center at Bogazici University in Istanbul, if water levels at dams remain low until summer, the muddy surface out in the open due to lack of water will be an ideal breeding ground for mosquitoes.
“Unfortunately, these mosquitoes can trigger previously rare cases of West Nile virus and Zika and cause a prevalence of malaria,” DS reported him as saying.
Istanbul is one of the worst hit cities, with water levels at their lowest in a decade (20.93 percent as of Dec. 28, 2020, compared with 34 percent at the end of 2019). Because the expectancy for precipitation in the winter is low this year, the city has had to rely on external sources such as rivers nearby rather than dams alone.