Tag Archives: spring

Climate change is making spring come earlier and earlier in the Northern Hemisphere

The declining number of rainy days in the Northern Hemisphere is making spring arrive earlier and earlier for plants in this half of the globe, new research reports.

Image credits Vinzenz Lorenz.

We have known that warmer average temperatures, a product of climate change, have been causing plants to sprout leaves earlier every year. A new study comes to add details to this picture, reporting that changes in precipitation patterns are also impacting this process.

According to the findings, the decrease in the number of rainy days every year has the second-greatest effect on plants, having quickened the emergence of leaves over the last few decades.

Springing early

“Scientists have looked mainly at how temperature affects when leaves first appear and, if they considered precipitation at all, it was just the total amount,” said Desheng Liu, co-author of the study and professor of geography at The Ohio State University. “But it isn’t the total amount of precipitation that matters the most — it is how often it rains.”

For the study, the team calculated that the decline in the frequency of rainfall in the Northern Hemisphere will cause spring (as defined by plants producing fresh leaves) to arrive sooner. The findings are based on datasets from the United States, Europe, and China, taken in points north of 30 degrees latitude (the northern third of the world). This data included the date each year when observers first note the presence of leaves on wild plants. The team also used satellite images from 1982 to 2018, which recorded when vegetation started to green.

Onset of leafing was then compared to data reporting on the frequency of rainy days each month at the investigated sites.

Overall, the team explains, the (steady) decline in rainy days over the years was associated with earlier onset of leafing in most areas of the Northern Hemisphere. The only exception were grasslands in predominantly semi-arid regions, where a decrease in precipitation (fewer rainy days) slightly delayed spring.

The results were used to create a model that estimates how much sooner spring would arrive in different areas of the Northern Hemisphere through to 2100. Current estimates place this figure at 10 days earlier than the calendaristic onset of spring by 2100. The team calculates that it will arrive one to two days earlier, on average, every decade through to 2100.

As to the link between rainfall and leafing, the team offers two main reasons. The first is that fewer rainy days means fewer overcast days in late winter and early summer. Due to this, plants receive more sunlight during this time, which stimulates the emergence and growth of leaves.

Secondly, more sunlight also means higher average air and soil temperatures during the day. At night, without clouds to reflect heat back down, temperatures will drop more rapidly.

“This contrasting effect earlier in the year makes the plants think it is spring and start leaf onset earlier and earlier,” said study co-author Jian Wang, a doctoral student in geography at Ohio State.

“We need to plan for a future where spring arrives earlier than we expected. Our model gives us information to prepare”.

The paper “Decreasing rainfall frequency contributes to earlier leaf onset in northern ecosystems” has been published in the journal Nature Climate Change.


Spring will come three weeks early in the US by 2100

“Spring is coming,” said no Stark ever. You’ve already noticed that the traditional starting dates for each season have become misaligned, and in some instances patterns have changed with shorter winters and longer springs. This trend is set only to exacerbate in the future. By 2100, spring could come three weeks early on average across continental United States. In some parts, like the Pacific Northwest and the mountainous regions of the Western U.S., spring will be a month early. This might sound like good news if you live in Wisconsin, but in the long-run this spells disaster as ecosystems get disrupted by abrupt seasonal changes.


Image: Morgue File

Plants bloom in spring, and as such most animals have timed their metabolism (i.e. hibernation) or migratory patterns accordingly. Long distance migratory birds don’t use calendars or watches, but instead tell time from the length of the day, which isn’t affected by climate change. The pied wheatear, for instance, travels from the extreme southeast of Europe to China, wintering in India and northeastern Africa, logging in more than 11,000 miles in a year.  In North American there are four migratory flyways that have been named the Atlantic, the Mississippi, the Central and the Pacific Flyways, each used by millions of birds. What happens when they arrive to their usual breeding and nesting grounds only to find most of the food already plundered? Yes, birds will have to adapt, but the toll will be severe considering they only have 100 years at their disposal.

” We used the extended spring indices to project changes in spring onset, defined by leaf out and by first bloom, and predicted false springs until 2100 in the conterminous United States (US) using statistically-downscaled climate projections from the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project 5 ensemble. Averaged over our study region, the median shift in spring onset was 23 days earlier in the Representative Concentration Pathway 8.5 scenario with particularly large shifts in the Western US and the Great Plains,” the study abstract reads.

“We are expanding our research to cover all kinds of extreme weather, including droughts and heat waves” concluded Andrew Allstadt, one of the paper’s authors. “We are particularly interested in how these affect bird populations in wildlife refuges.”

The researchers also found some parts of the US, like the western Great Plains, will see more incidents of ‘false springs’. Like the name suggests,  brief periods of warming fool plants and animals into thinking it’s spring. Winter isn’t over though, and the chill returns. This spring-winter weather alteration cab damage plant production cycles in natural and agricultural systems.

Verizon vs AT&T

Consumers have their say: Verizon best – AT&T worst

Verizon vs AT&T

This year’s annual satisfaction survey conducted by Consumer Reports magazine heralds Verizon as the leading telecom company in customer satisfaction out of all the four nationwide giants in the US. Not very surprising, AT&T scored the lowest benchmark.

Yes, for the second year in a row AT&T scored the poorest, which should raise some questions regarding the company’s current attitude and client orientated service protocols. The data came from a survey which polled 66,000 subscribers.On the other side of the fence, Verizon scored the highest showing particularly well in the texting, data and staff knowledge department, although when value is concerned, it still trails a bit behind its competition.

Enterprise solutions, like VoIP and 0845 charges, haven’t been taken into account by the survey.

Second place went to Sprint at a very close run, while T-Mobile fared far worse but still retaining the third position.

“Our survey indicates that subscribers to prepaid and smaller standard-service providers are happiest overall with their cell-phone service,” said Paul Reynolds, electronics editor for Consumer Reports. “However, these carriers aren’t for everyone. Some are only regional, and prepaid carriers tend to offer few or no smartphones. The major carriers are still leading options for many consumers, and we found they ranged widely in how well they satisfied their customers.”

What do you think? Do the rankings reflect reality ?

image via engadget



The ‘hottest’ 7 … hot springs

The idea for this article hit me while I was writing this post about awesome landscapes. I was doing some research, and when I found the amazing things hot water springs can create, it was obvious that this article had to come.

Grand Prismatic Spring

Measuring about 250×380 feet, and being the largest hot water spring outside of New Zealand, the Grand Prismatic Spring is definitely something worth gazing at.

It sits in Yellowstone, high on the top of a mound, and has some small terraces that highlight even better the amazing colours created by the bacteria inside the water.

The vivid colours are the result of pigmented bacteria; the colours range from green to red, depending on the amount of chlorophyll the bacteria has, as well as the temperature of the water.

Mammoth springs

While we’re still in Yellowstone, I just have to mention Mammoth springs.

The amazing springs that showcase terraces was formed due to the occurence of the typical elements: heat, water, limestone, and a fracture system.

Heat and water create the necessary force for the travertine terraces to appear (travertine is a form of limestone deposited by mineral springs and generally associated to hot springs).

Pamukkale springs

In Turkish, Pamukkale means “cotton castle” – and it’s quite easy to understand why.

It was created with pretty much the same elements as Mammoth Spring, but the aspect is not identical, because the deposition of the travertine depends on a number of factors, including weather, temperature, local geochemistry, etc.

Guelma spring

Located in Algeria, this hot water spring draws more and more people, despite the relatively remote area.

Here, you can practically see the travertine formations cascading down like waterfalls.

This happens because of the way it is formed. Initially, the mineral depositions are soft and jelly-ish (so to speak), but as time passes, they harden in whatever position they are left.

Blood Pond

The people who named it sure didn’t have to think a long time when they named it.

There are nine hot water springs in Beppu, and they’ve been nicknamed “hells”, due to the boiling water, and the Blood Pond is the “worst” of them. It’s also the nicest one to look at… at least if you ask me.

The Blue Lagoon

This Icelandic Blue Lagoon has been turned into a geothermal spa, due to the minerals in the water, such as silica and sulphur. These mineral rich waters are reputed to help people suffering from skin diseases.

Jigokudani Monkey Park

The name Jigokudani literally means Hell’s Valley – something with Japanese and hot water springs… can’t find a single one that’s not named hell.

The spring itself isn’t extremely spectacular, but the thing is, it’s famous due to a large population of Japanese Macaques, commonly known as snow monkeys. The smart rascals come down from the cold forests to take a warm bath… and who can blame them ?

Photo sources: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13