The end of the calendar year means we’re entering into winter and seeing the culmination of what fall has been leading up to. Every year, nature experiences the same changes during this season before spring restarts the cycle all over again. What changes does nature actually go through during this time of the year, though?
What happens to plants?
When winter arrives, it’s common for most plants to go dormant. Those that seem to thrive in this season are often invaders to the area, such as burdock. Disruption to the ecosystem by human intervention is what’s allowed this to happen. As for trees, you can tell whether one is evergreen or not by the presence of leaves. Spruce and pine are two perfect examples of this, with both retaining their leaves throughout the colder months. As the season progresses, sap in other trees will also start rising, with the tree buds swelling in anticipation of spring.
What happens to wildlife?
To some, the prospect of sleeping for several months probably sounds appealing. Unfortunately for them, it’s not necessary for their survival. The same can’t be said for many other animals, though. It’s common for a lot of wildlife to hibernate during winter to ensure they make it through to spring. They’ll typically stock up on food beforehand, with their bodies naturally adjusting to ensure they can cope with eating less throughout the season. Plenty of birds also change their behavior in the winter, although they don’t necessarily hibernate. Many will fly south to warmer climates because their bodies haven’t evolved to change with the seasons. Some will stick around, though, being the few that can cope with the cold. They’ll scavenge food where they can, with their stomachs able to handle a variety of different food.
What happens to the sky?
There are some clear differences between the summer and winter months, including the number of daylight hours. Days are far shorter in the latter, with the sun at its lowest around December 21. This is the winter solstice, which marks the beginning of the season in the United States. With the turn of the season comes some notable meteor showers, including the Quadrantids in early January. These are an annual event, although they’re not always noticeable to the average human eye.
What happens to the weather?
A person’s concept of winter weather differs depending on where they live. States like Hawaii and Florida aren’t accustomed to snow, whereas Washington and Oregon receive hundreds of inches a year. In these areas where it’s commonplace, life continues as usual when it snows because they’ve adapted to this weather. In some areas, it doesn’t necessarily snow, but it does rain. The low temperatures freeze the water, creating what’s known as ice storms. These can make surfaces incredibly dangerous to move along, whether you’re a bird, human, or another animal.
Winter may sometimes seem like a bleak time of year sometimes, but there’s a lot of beauty in what happens outside. You just need to look closer at everything to really appreciate it.