Photo by Corey Husic

Saturday, January 12, 2013

January 12th and cherry blossoms?

Today, I had the first reports of cherry blossoms in Washington D.C.  Seriously.

Washington D.C. Cherry Blossoms in January 2013
(photo posted by fellow Audubon Together Green Fellow, Sara Espinoza, on Facebook)

The oldest known phenology records are of the timing of cherry tree blooms from China and Japan, going back over one thousand years.  A 2011 scientific paper by Sakurai, et al., published in the journal Biological Conservation reported that  "In Japan, biologists have found climate change is affecting species and ecosystems, including the earlier flowering time of cherry trees which are an important cultural symbol in Japan...According to research in Kyoto, the average flowering date during 1971– 2000 was 7 days earlier than an average of the previous 1200 years."

According to the National Park Service, the Peak Bloom Date in Washington is defined as "the day on which 70 percent of the blossoms of the Yoshino cherry trees that surround the Tidal Basin are open." As in Japan, this date has been arriving earlier by a week to ten days.

This tidbit of information may not have any significant impact on our lives, except when we should plan a weekend trip to the nation's capital in the spring.  But one has to wonder if this is a little sign from nature that we should be paying attention to what else might be changing as a consequence of climate change?

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