Spring came early this year in Cyprus.

You probably remember about a month ago when all of Central Europe was flooded by incessant rainfall and Northern Europe and America suffered through polar temperatures. Yet in Athens, daily temperatures ranged between 15-20 °C (59-68 °F) , which was unusually high for the season. One of these mornings, opening the curtains of my window I found a pleasant, yet an unexpected sight: an almond tree in blossom in mid-February. Surprised, I looked at the small white flowers and they made my day. Is this the precursor of spring?

With a refreshed mood I called my good friend Skevi who lives in Paphos. Paphos is a coastal city in the southwest of Cyprus; it has a subtropical-semi-arid climate with the greatest amounts of precipitation mainly occurring from mid-November to March. Generally Cyprus has higher temperatures than Greece so I assumed something similar would have happened there. I wanted to find out if my friend had noticed a change in the natural environment. Indeed, my guess was correct. She mentioned that the winter has been generally mild and the last few days had seen many flowering trees (almond, sour orange) and the familiar yellow pollen from pine trees accumulating in the streets after the rain.

"Pic: Sbn1984 (Wikimedia Commons)

Pic: Sbn1984 (Wikimedia Commons)

But there was even more interesting and glaring evidence for the early arrival of spring. Migratory birds had already come to the island. Each year, Cyprus is one of the first countries in Europe to welcome the spring migratory birds. The swallows and martins are famed spring visitors and make their first appearances in early February. Bird Life Cyprus, a special website that deals with the study of birds in the country, has eight recordings of swallows so far.

The whole conversation got us thinking. Human activity has increased greenhouse gases and led to an increase in global temperatures. As shown, climate change is the main cause of the gradually changing cycle of the seasons as well. According to studies from Harvard and Berkeley Universities, published in the journal Nature and based on data for the period of 1850-2007 , besides an increase in average global temperature over the last 50 years, there is a parallel seasonal shift in the northern hemisphere.

Researcher Alexander Stein explains:

For 100 years we see a very natural pattern switching times and suddenly at some point, just then that average global temperatures increase, while changes and the standard change of seasons, which raises the suspicion that man has played a role here too.

These figures unfortunately confirm the observations of biologists regarding how various animals, birds and plants sense that the spring comes earlier and react accordingly: bears wake up earlier from hibernation, birds migrate earlier, buds bloom earlier.

The arrival of spring marks the rebirth of nature, but it would be wise to think about the consequences the shifting of the seasons may have on the natural environment. See how it affects environment around you and draw your own conclusions. Is it time to take action?

About The Author: Irini Chassiotou

Irini Chassiotou

Irini Chassioti is a teacher and chemist with a master’s degree in Environmental Chemistry and Technology. She was born and raised in the northern suburbs of Athens and is an active member of the local city improvement association. Her activities include the protection of the local ecosystem, writing scientific articles related to environment, ecology and sustainable development and the education of pupils on environmental issues.


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