As floods block roads and seemingly endless days of rain disrupt our lives, it’s easy to overlook how extreme weather events could change our countryside forever.
Because trees grow slowly we tend to imagine that our local forests and woodlands are going to stay the same forever…and often we get a surprise at how much everything has shot up when we revisit a wood after a lapse of time. But in fact woodlands have been in a constant state of change for many thousands of years, with trees reaching maturity, falling down and being replaced by seedlings spread by animals, birds and the wind, which use the extra light to race towards the sunlight and become established.
No-one really knows how global warming will affect Scotland in the long term. In 2008 it was thought that drier summers and wetter, milder winters were likely but the following winters and the last two summers seem to have knocked that theory back, in the southern half of Scotland anyway. The behaviour of the jet stream is critical, it seems, in determining rainfall and temperatures, though a much longer time period would be needed to discern reliable patterns.