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Spring to arrive three weeks earlier by end of century

In addition to the arrival of spring, changing temperatures will also affect the likelihood of false springs.

By
Brooks Hays
Spring is likely to come sooner and sooner as the climate warms. Photo by Bill Greenblatt/UPI
Spring is likely to come sooner and sooner as the climate warms. Photo by Bill Greenblatt/UPI | License Photo

MADISON, Wis., Oct. 14 (UPI) -- As the planet warms, spring will begin to come earlier and earlier in much of the United States.

Researchers at the University of Wisconsin recently used the Spring Indices -- an index that combines average temperatures and day length to predict leaf and flower emergence in different parts of the country -- to determine when spring will come as climate change continues.

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As the scientists detailed in their latest paper, published this week in the journal Environmental Research Letters, higher temperatures will translate to an earlier spring -- as many as three weeks earlier by the end of the century.

"Our projections show that winter will be shorter -- which sound greats great for those of us in Wisconsin," study author Andrew Allstadt said in a press release. "But long-distance migratory birds, for example, time their migration based on day length in their winter range. They may arrive in their breeding ground to find that the plant resources that they require are already gone."

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In addition to the arrival of spring, changing temperatures will also affect the likelihood of false springs. A false spring occurs when overnight lows drop back below freezing after leaves show and flowers have begun to bloom.

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Most parts of the United States will experience fewer false springs, but a significant portion of the western Great Plains will host a higher frequency of false springs.

"This is important as false springs can damage plant production cycles in natural and agricultural systems," Allstadt explained. "In some cases, an entire crop can be lost."

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Allstadt and her colleagues are now working to better understand how shifting seasons and changing temperatures will alter extreme weather patterns in different parts of the United States.

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