Spring flowers. (Credit: Hans/CC0 Public Domain)
University of Wisconsin researchers have estimated spring will come three weeks earlier over the next century due to climate change, according to a release. The earlier spring may be welcome in some cold climates, but could be catastrophic for migratory birds, scientists believe.
The researchers used extended Spring Indices to predict flower and leaf emergence based on day length. These helped reveal “false springs,” where warming occurs only to be followed by freezing temperatures, are projected to decrease in most areas but increase in others. Spring is projected to appear earlier everywhere, but increases in false springs could mainly be in the Great Plains.
Earlier springs may cause migratory birds to arrive at feeding grounds only to find food sources they depend on have already come and gone, the research suggests. This poor timing can be devastating to bird populations. Poor timing of plant growth due to an increase in false springs may also be devastating to crops.
Top image: Spring flowers. (Credit: Hans/CC0 Public Domain)