Researchers examined plant phenological data -- changes in the leafing and blooming patterns of plants -- to mark their findings. Using Spring Indices -- “models based on nationwide field observations collected about when enough heat has accumulated to initiate leafing and blooming in lilacs and honeysuckles”-- scientists concluded that spring hit about 2-3 weeks early this year.
While you may be jazzed by getting to wear shorts and flip-flops on a Saturday afternoon a few weeks earlier than usual this year, the consequences of such a climate shift are not good. An early spring “poses significant challenges for planning and managing important issues that affect our economy and our society,” said USGS scientist Dr. Jake Weltzin. It can also usher forth a surge in disease carrying bugs like ticks and mosquitoes, a more volatile pollen season and a higher likelihood of plant damage.
And if the global heat records shattered in 2016 are any indication, premature spring seems and ever-more likely prospect going forward.