Planting zones (and pests and invasive species) are ever-more marching northward.

There's ample evidence climate change is messing with the world's phenology, aka the timing of natural life cycles. Warmer temperatures are hastening the emergence of butterflies and driving short-range migratory birds north weeks earlier. They're melting Arctic ice and blocking polar bears from their main prey, seals, creating shrunken bears more than 140 pounds lighter than those of the '80s.

And in the United States, the effects of the great heat-up have become pronounced in our gardens, where warm weather-loving plants now thrive in once-cool environments.

The mutation of the nation's growing seasons is clear in this map comparison NOAA made for the American Public Garden Association. It shows how average overnight minimum temperatures have changed between the former U.S. Climate Normals (tracked between 1971 and 2000) and the current normals (1981 to 2010). Watch how planting zones lurch northward with time:

Here's another view of the expanded planting territory:

With that rate of change, California's poppies could soon become a common sight in Seattle. Seriously: Scientists expect a vast northward shift in planting zones over the coming three decades, as depicted in this NOAA/Garden Association graphic:

So what's the upshot? For those who obstinately focus on the positive—"vegetation will likely grow faster with higher yields than ever before in places where such growth was once impossible," say these Fox News opinion-havers—it won't all be sunshine and daisies.

Balmy weather will speed the march of invasive plants like Kudzu and noxious blady grass. It'll give a boost to crop-decimating pests, which are already venturing about two miles farther north and south each year. And given that ragweed-pollen season is weeks longer now, allergy sufferers might look forward to months of huffing and weeping like they're attending the world's most-painful wedding.

About the Author

Most Popular

  1. Equity

    What the New Urban Anchors Owe Their Cities

    Corporations like Google and Amazon reap the spoils of winner-take-all urbanism. Here’s how they can also bear greater responsibility.

  2. Black and white West Charlotte High School students pose together in and around their school bus in 1972.
    Equity

    How America's Most Integrated School Segregated Again

    A new book tracks how a Charlotte, North Carolina, high school went from an integration success story to the city’s most isolated and impoverished school.

  3. Transportation

    Why Are Little Kids in Japan So Independent?

    In Japan, small children take the subway and run errands alone, no parent in sight. The reason why has more to do with social trust than self-reliance.

  4. Rescue crews and observers on top of the rubble from a collapsed building that fell in the Condesa neighborhood of Mexico City.
    Environment

    A Brigade of Architects and Engineers Rushed to Assess Earthquake Damage in Mexico City

    La Casa del Arquitecto became the headquarters for highly skilled urbanists looking to help and determine why some buildings suffered more spectacularly than others.

  5. Equity

    This Startup Helps You Buy a House (If You Hand Over Your Airbnb Income)

    For buyers in hot real-estate markets, a new kind of mortgage offered by a company called Loftium might offer a way to purchase a home.