By 2100, Spring Could Be Almost a Month Earlier

Illustration for article titled By 2100, Spring Could Be Almost a Month Earlier

Something odd is happening to the seasons. Spring has been showing up progressively earlier, and a new model shows that by the end of the century, it will likely be showing up a full 23 days earlier—but it may not look quite like the Spring we’re used to.

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A new study in Environmental Research Letters looks at two traditional markers of Spring—“leaf out” (when the leaves first pop up) and “first bloom” (just like it sounds—and what our progressively warming climate is doing to the date. They looked at data beginning in 1950, and then projected out what the next century would look like. The median shift was 23 days, but something else funny started happening—Spring got a whole more erratic.

Illustration for article titled By 2100, Spring Could Be Almost a Month Earlier

In part, this was because the shift wasn’t consistent. Some places got a considerably earlier start than the 23 day median and others quite a bit later. But also, this shift to an earlier date also came with the potential for “false Springs”—a temporary warm-up, followed by a freeze—to show up earlier too, and this is a problem for plants, particularly those who have little defense against freezing in their earliest stages.

An even bigger problem, though, may be that while the plants think spring has come, the insect and animal world (on which it depends for pollination) might not be in lockstep agreement. In fact, animals are already responding to climate change’s shifting seasons in unpredictable ways:

Long-distance migratory birds respond to cues present in their overwintering habitat, such as day length, while plants in their summer breeding grounds respond to local environmental cues like temperature. Birds that have adapted to migrate earlier have maintained their population levels, while birds that retained historical temporal patterns in migrations have declined, at least in part due to phenological mismatches with plant-based resources (Saino et al 2011, Clausen and Clausen 2013). Increasing temperatures have led to poor synchronization between moth emergence and leaf out of host trees (Visser and Holleman 2001). Ultimately, the ability of a species to respond to rapid phenological changes will depend upon generation time, levels of genetic variability, and the plasticity of phenological and behavioral traits

In other words, yes, Spring is coming—and it’s coming earlier, but it might not be the Spring we expect.

Top image: Sundraw Photography / shutterstock.

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DISCUSSION

SGTalon
SGTalon

Or Not.

When have any of the other doom and gloom predictions of the “Climate Change” geniuses ever come true? They said that by now that the poles would have melted. They said that the coastal cities would be under water, hurricanes out of control, people driven out of the equatorial areas... For 30 years they have been saying we only have 10 years until it happens. and NONE of it has come true. The closest we can get to it is the localized droughts in Southern California.. a place that has been having years long droughts for as long as we have been there.

The thing that makes me frustrated is that we have done so much to eliminate pollution in this country. We are among the cleanest in the world, yet it is never enough. It won’t be enough until you guys destroy the fossil fuel industry. The same industry that brought prosperity to the entire planet. There are far fewer people in extreme poverty and much higher standards of living since capitalism and especially the petroleum industry took over. But it is never enough. And it never will be until some sanity is brought to the argument.

Instead of screaming about the US how about go to talk to the those Socialist countries that have 85% of the cars burning diesel. Or places like China and India where there is almost no control on their pollution. The US has never been as bad as these places. But we as the people that are always striving to be clean are the problem...

Sorry, not buying it.