Part 1: Is climate change already affecting us?
This post is going to kick off a series asking the question is climate change affecting us in Britain already, and if so, how?
I start with an interview from a month ago when I was surfing in Cornwall. On our last day, in Perranporth near Newquay, the beach was redflagged and no one could go anywhere near the water, so we definitely couldn’t go surfing! Instead I managed to catch 2 lovelies from the local surf shop and school ‘Ticket to Ride’.
Sam and Nico have lived around Perranporth for 10 years, Sam originally from Wiltshire and Nico from Brittany just love to surf. In the 10 years they’d been here I wanted to know if they’d seen any changes in weather patterns or fish stocks, or anything that would normally be affected by a temperature, water quality or weather change. I didn’t expect to get the answers I did.
For the best waves to surf you need high pressure; high pressure keeps the waves clean by air pushing down on the waves making them better to surf because they are glassy and smooth. In low pressure conditions the waves become mainly white water, which is messy as a by stander, but when you’re in and on top of them it’s worse! The low pressure sort of sucks up the air, doing the opposite of high pressure, and disrupting the shape of the wave, making it harder and less effective to surf.
According to Sam and Nico, Perranporth and it’s surrounding surfspots has been seeing some very odd weather patterns. Normally the prime time for surf is the month of September, but in the last few years they have the found primetime moving to October. A change of a whole month is quite a lot! They also think that the winters have had better waves because of the high pressure, which doesn’t just mean better surf it also means warmer winters and colder summers, as the low pressure sets in for summer. We certainly experienced the low pressure while we were there, with winds reaching galeforce and hurricane swells in July!
They sited a particularly memorable and violent storm on the 11th of March last year, 2008. Check out the first video for and idea of the usual calm and beautiful Perranporth, and the second for mayhem!
Sam and Nico both teach surfing to the masses, especially as everyone flocks to the beach in summer. This June however, they weren’t able to teach a single lesson for 5 days because the sea was so flat and glassy there wasn’t a wave to be had by anyone. That’s pretty significant when you bear in mind the fact that they only need knee high surf to teach in, and it happened twice in one month! According to them, it’s unheard of.
Nico also said that where he comes from on the coast of Brittany, (not sure where) he would never have had sufficient swell to surf, but now it’s amazing surf for the whole of the month of August! hmmmm…
Interested by the parallels in our local stories (there’s some similar stuff going on where Jack and I live on the West coast of Wales) I enquired about any changes in local bird migration patterns, or fish stocks. Do they fluctuate? do the mackerel come back at the same time each year? In Aberaeron, all of a sudden we have a non native algal bloom which turns rockpools and shallow waters red, like blood, do they have anything similar? Strangely enough they said they hadn’t noticed or heard of any particular changes in fish stocks or birds. More on this when I start exlporing my local coastline for stories.
So! Altogether a very interesting afternoon and start to the series, thanks Sam, thanks Nico, and remember you’re always welcome in Aberaeron : )