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Climate change causing early spring

Climate change causing early spring

Climate change causing early spring
August 25, 2006

Spring is arriving earlier across Europe than it did 30 years ago according to new research published in the journal Global Change Biology.

Scientists from 17 nations examined 125,000 studies involving 561 species and found that spring is beginning on average six to eight days earlier than it did 30 years ago. The researchers said that in countries where rapid increases in temperature have occurred, “that figure is almost doubled.”

Photo by R. Butler.

“Unlike some studies that record individual species, this is the first comprehensive examination of all available data at the continental scale, using around 550 plant species, and the timing change is clear, very clear,” said lead researcher Dr Annette Menzel from the Technical University Munich in Germany.

“Not only do we clearly demonstrate change in the timing of seasons, but that change is much stronger in countries that have experienced more warming.” added co-author Dr Tim Sparks of the Center for Ecology & Hydrology in the UK. “Many plant species grow throughout Europe, so, for example, a direct comparison of the flowering date of wild cherry which is two weeks earlier in the UK with that in Austria which is only 3 days earlier is possible with this huge dataset.”

The researchers say the shift was most evident in spring but the warmer temperatures have also delayed autumn (fall) by an average of 3 days over the past 30 years.

Sparks told BBC news that the findings show that there is “a direct link between rising temperatures and changes to plant and animal [behavior]” but “did not go as far as pointing the finger of blame at human-induced climate change.”


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This article is based on a news release from the Centre for Ecology & Hydrology. It uses a quote from “Climate blamed for early springs” which appeared on the BBC News website on Aug 25 2006.

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