Is spring starting earlier and earlier?

Astronomical spring began yesterday, and the meteorological start date was already March 1. But nature has its own timetable, which is changing due to global warming.

Weather Spring begins when the sun is directly above the equator. It is on the 19th, 20th or 21st of March, but usually on the 20thSt, just like this year. For meteorologists, March 1 is already the beginning of spring. Weather statistics are easy to work out for full calendar months. Nature does not adhere to these man-made dates and depends, among other things, on temperature. But the Earth is warming. Does this mean nature is waking up earlier from hibernation?

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Nature is ahead

In nature, the beginning of spring is marked, among other things, by the flowering of plants. People can report sightings of flowering plants via Natuurkalender.nl. A citizen science project compared that data to average bloom onsets from 1940 to 1968. This shows that many plants that normally bloom in March are already starting to bloom in February or sometimes in January.

For example, half a century ago, hazel began to bloom on average on March 15, and this year the first observations came on January 3; That is 43 days ago. Differences were also large for other species; According to De Naudercalendar, nature is a month ahead of what it was fifty years ago. Comparing this year’s data to the average from 2001 to 2020, nature is a week and a half ahead. So the start of spring is soon postponed.

Big consequences

Bloom dates in England have also been researched. Biologists from the University of Cambridge published a study in 2022 in which they looked at the first flowering date of 406 different plant species in the United Kingdom between 1753 and 2019. As with the Dutch project, they discovered that plant flowers are now present. A month earlier than observations prior to 1986.

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Warmer temperatures and earlier onset of natural spring require better plant adaptation. But some animals depend on plant species. For example, pink-footed geese hibernating in the Netherlands – which fly north to breed in the spring – have recently discovered another, more breeding site to compensate for the early spring. The question is whether all animal and plant species can adapt in time.

However, it is clear that if the Earth warms further, spring will start earlier and earlier in nature.

proof’s: Natural calendar, Proceedings of the Royal Society Biological Sciences, KNMI

Image: sunflair/Pixabay

Ferdinand Woolridge

 "Subtly charming analyst. Beer maven. Future teen idol. Twitter guru. Lifelong bacon fan. Pop culture lover. Passionate social media evangelist."

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