The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) on Wednesday, Jan. 25 released its newly revised climate zone map, which reflects “northward warming trends,” according to an article in USA Today.

The map was anticipated by many gardeners, approximately 80 million according to an article in the Tuscon Citizen and is expected to assist with growth of trees, vegetables as well as research of plants and much more. The last time the “hardiness” guide was updated was more than 20 years ago in 1990 and according to officials it was no longer a practical method to gardening or research issues.

The new map, “uses 30 years of weather data gathered from 1976 to 2005 and is more precise than the 1990 version, showing smaller areas and accounting for higher elevations and bodies of water that can influence temperature. It was designed for the Web, allowing people to enter their zip code and see their zone down to half-mile segments,” according to USA Today.

However, the map did not touch on the topic of climate change and officials believe that any significant comment on climate change would require more than just a 30-year study of data gathering.

According to the USDA website, “Climate changes are usually based on trends in overall average temperatures recorded over 50 to 100 years. Because the (new map) represents 30-year averages of what are essentially extreme weather events (the coldest temperatures of the year), changes in zones are not reliable evidence of whether there has been global warming.”

-written by Katie Kelley, Social Media Intern, Winter 2011

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