Wow! It’s hot. Find some shade…it’s 10- 15 degrees cooler in the shade than in the sun. Research has found that temperatures are rising – especially in central New Jersey. A recent article in the Washington Post points to local recorded temperatures raising at an alarming rate.
New Jersey may seem an unlikely place to measure climate change, but it is one of the fastest-warming states in the nation. Its average temperature has climbed by close to 2 degrees Celsius since 1895 — double the average for the Lower 48 states.
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (a body lead by the United Nations for assessing the science related to climate change) published its most recent finds in a report.
For the first time, the Sixth Assessment Report provides a more detailed regional assessment of climate change, including a focus on useful information that can inform risk assessment, adaptation, and other decision-making, and a new framework that helps translate physical changes in the climate – heat, cold, rain, drought, snow, wind, coastal flooding and more – into what they mean for society and ecosystems.
At a local level, what can we do? Preserving open space, planting trees, and educating the public can make a difference. Look at these images pulled from a map of “Heat Islands” put out by Sustainable New Jersey. The purple-blue is cooler and orange-red is warmer. You can see how much cooler it is in the park – especially in the native woods. At Marquand Park, we continue to plant trees in keeping with the historical layout of the park, replacing trees which have died or come down in storms. The open space of our 17 acres is not only cooler, but open space helps to manage runoff from downpours. Impervious surfaces, such as sidewalks, parking lots and streets do little to absorb access water. Trees and open space help stormwater retention and keep water from flooding streams roadways.
One of the most unusual trees in the park is blooming now. The Davidia involucrata, the dove-tree, handkerchief tree, pocket handkerchief tree, or my favorite - the ghost tree. Soft bracts up to 10" long form the "doves" or "hankerchiefs." They surround a puffy burst of stamens. The history of the Davidia tells a tale of daring plant hunters in China competeing to find and bring the tree to Europe and the United States. Known only in ancient Chinese poems, it was the Holy Grail of plant explorers. Ernest Wilson, a British pant collector a set off in the 1890's to find the tree for the Veitch Nursery in England. He stopped at the Arnold Arboretum in Boston to learn about collecting and shipping seeds. It was good that he did. When he eventually found the Davidia in the wild, he collected over 14,000 seeds! Inchang Province in western China where Wilson found the Davidia in the wild. The seeds proved vexing to propagators back in England and the tree takes ten years to bloom. So we are lucky to have a mature specimen here at Marquand Park! As for Wilson's "discovery" - apprently Pêre David had already imported the tree to France in the 1860's. Hence the name Davidia. Wilson did go on to find and export many Chinese plants for the Veitch nursery, Kew Gardens and eventually the Arnold Arboretum where he would become the director.
The folks at Colonial Canopy in Pennsylvania are giving out trees for children to plant. They gave us several dawn redwoods, (Metasequoia glyptostroboides) to share with visitors.!
Here is an article featuring our park and other outside places and activities to explore this winter. Princeton Perspectives, a sister site to Princeton Online, uses articles, features, and commentary to take an in-depth look at timely information. Delving deep into one topic of interest every issue, the magazine features guest writers from our community who are embedded in the stories they write about. The editor, Lisa Jacknow, contacted board member Becca Flemer to find out more about the park. Thanks Lisa for featuring our park and its collection of trees!
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