Climate change is causing UK trees to flower a month earlier

Spring is coming early in parts of the UK this year and while many are cheering, this isn’t necessarily good news. When warm weather arrives, flowers bloom earlier on bushes and trees, a trend that researchers say has been around since the 1980s. This is affecting insects, birds and all living things. animals that live on these flowers.

Image credit: Flickr/Martin LaBar.

During winter, many trees Protect yourself from frost by placing yourself in a winter sleep mode. However, if spring begins earlier, the plant will take that as a signal to wake up and resume growth and flowering. If frost occurs during this time, the tree can be severely affected or even die. Fruit trees are especially at risk of late frosts.

In normal years (before anthropogenic climate change), spring arrives later and the risk of spring frost is actually very low. But with global warming not only increasing average temperature but also causing fluctuations and more extreme weather. happen, the risk has become much greater. This problem affects not only the plants themselves, but also all other organisms that depend on them.

Nectar, seeds, pollen and fruit are very important food sources for wildlife. So, if flowers appear too early and are affected by frost, birds or insects may run out of food. This is part of the seasonal changes in climate that cause spring to arrive early and autumn to arrive late in many parts of the world.

Professor Ulf Buntgen of the University of Cambridge and a team of researchers made hundreds of thousands of observations about the first flowering dates of plants recorded in the database, Nature’s Calendar, dating from year 18order Century. This includes the entire UK. They then compared this with climate records.

“We don’t know if adaptive evolution allowed populations to access [optimum flowering timing] Writing team. “The timing of plants’ flowering can affect their pollination, especially as insects pollinate seasonally and determine seed ripening and dispersal.”

Flowers and climate change

On average, flowers in the UK bloom about a month earlier than they did in 1986, according to the study. In 2019, the first flowering date is in early April. This is a general average and not all plants bloom at the same time. Herbs and trees came first then shrubs, but the entire timeline is now being pushed up as temperatures rise on a global scale.

Average global temperature so far 1.1 degrees Celsius increase relative to the pre-industrial level. Under the Paris Agreement, countries have pledged to limit global warming to 2 degrees Celsius by the end of the century, the ideal target being 1.5 – but that seems like a pipe dream. Vong. Exceeding that threshold will have more serious consequences than those seen.

If temperatures continue to rise, the authors predict the first flowering dates will shift further, possibly starting in March or even earlier. Such a conversion will result in some crops (including crops) flowering too early and suffering damage. Herbs are by far the fastest-changing ones due to their short generation times, they write.

Like in the UK, other parts of the world have seen early blooming seasons. Japan has recorded its last year cherry blossoms earlier seasons for 1,200 years. And in 2019, a heatwave in the United States led to Sunflowers bloom earlier than usual. While good to see, this makes it difficult for farmers to grow other crops in those areas.

The study was published in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B. Climate change is causing UK trees to flower a month earlier

James Brien

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