New beginning of 'natural spring' announced by UNH scientist, group

You could say the first day of spring came a week earlier this year: Monday, March 13th.

That's what's indicated by a new report, Evidence of an Early Spring, that draws on research by University of New Hampshire (UNH) climate scientist Cameron Wake. The report, released by the group Clean Air-Cool Planet (CA-CP), finds that over the last 150 years, scientific measurements show that events signifying the beginning of spring - including when plants bud, sap flows, ice breaks up, and the last frost and final 32-degree day occur - have all shifted. These events now happen a week earlier on average.

These trends are consistent with what computer models have predicted would happen with global warming.

"Climate researchers had known for some time that various trends were emerging in the long-term data sets for things like temperature, precipitation, day with snow on the ground, length of growing season, as well as bloom dates," said Wake, a research associate professor at the Climate Change Research Center in UNH's Institute for the Study of Earth, Oceans and Space. "Working with researchers from Cornell, US Geological Survey, and others, we've been able to bring this data together in one place for the first time, and analyze it for consistent trends."

Wake released Indicators of the Climate Change in the Northeast, a comprehensive look at 11 different physical and biological markers of the changing climate in the region.

"Biological spring has changed due to global warming and that's threatening to put ecosystems badly out of synch," said Adam Markham, executive director at CA-CP. "What matters to us is when we can shed the winter clothes, when we see the crocuses and daffodils and smell the lilacs, when spring actually arrives. That time is coming earlier and earlier much earlier than it did a century ago."

All of the major indicators of climate in the Northeast, from temperature and length of growing season, to lake ice-out and lilac b

Contact: David Sims
University of New Hampshire

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