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How climate change affects the fall foliage chasing around the United States

By the end of September, the leaves usually cascade to warmer shades throughout the United States. This year, many regions have not even pivoted from the shades of green in the summer yet.

Portland, Maine — A drought that causes the leaves to turn brown and die before they reach their peak color. A heat wave that encourages the leaves to fall before autumn comes. Extreme weather like a hurricane that completely strips the leaves of the trees.

Due to the cheerful autumn activities, leaf peep faces some serious threats from the era of climate change.

Leaf peeping, a habit of traveling to see nature in autumn colors, is a beloved annual activity in many parts of the country, especially in New England and New York. However, recent seasons have been confused by weather conditions there and elsewhere, and this trend is likely to continue as global warming, says tree doctors, conservationists and ecologists. increase.

By the end of September, the leaves usually cascade to warmer shades throughout the United States. This year, many regions have not even pivoted from the shades of green in the summer yet. In northern Maine, peak conditions usually arrive in late September, but forest rangers reported less than 70% color change and moderate leaf fall on Wednesday.

Throughout Denver, high temperatures left “dead, dry edges” early in the season, said Michael Sandberg, a certified tree doctor in the region.

“Instead of the trees making this gradual change, they are thrown at these quirky weather events. They either change suddenly or shed their leaves early,” Sandberg said. “It’s been a few years since we had a really good year of leaves where we could drive around the city and see really good colors.”

The reason why climate change can be bad for autumn leaves has a little to do with plant biology. When autumn comes and the sun length and temperature drop, the chlorophyll in the leaves breaks and the green color is lost. Green is replaced by yellow, red, and orange, which make dramatic autumn displays.

Achieving these peak colors is a delicate balance and endangered by changes in the environment, said Paul Shaberg, a research plant physiologist at the US Forest Department based in Burlington, Vermont. rice field. Warm autumn temperatures could delay the start of what leaf peepers are looking for in terms of autumn colors, leaving the leaves green longer, he said.

To make matters worse, dry summers can stress trees and leaves can completely miss the fall color change, Shaberg said. In a 2003 study by the journal Tree Physiology, Schaberg cowrote states that “environmental stress can accelerate leaf deterioration.”

“If climate change means a severe drought, it means that trees are closed and many trees just shed their leaves,” he said. “Severe drought means that the tree will not work. It will not improve the color.”

It’s already happening. This summer’s heat wave in the Pacific Northwest Professor Chris Still of the Department of Forest Ecosystems and Sociology at Oregon State University brought temperatures above 110 degrees Fahrenheit (43 degrees Celsius) to Oregon, which led to a condition called “leaf burning,” leaving premature leaves. Said it would turn brown.

The leaf pigment was broken down and soon fell off, Still said. It will lead to a less scenic autumn season in parts of Oregon.

“This is a very big example of a color change due to the impact of a heat wave,” Still says.

Climate change also poses a long-term threat that can disrupt leaf peep. Andrew Richardson, a professor of ecosystem science at Northern Arizona University, said that the spread of diseases, invading pests, and northern creep of tree species are all factors associated with warming and can reduce the vividness of autumn leaves. He said he had sex.

Yankee magazine’s fall foliage expert Jim Sarge said the fall foliage began in late autumn, but may continue to arrive thereafter.

“In my observations over the last decade, there have been years later than considered the past average,” he said.

The economic consequences of poor leaf peeping seasons can also result.Officials throughout New England said Autumn tourism brings billions of dollars to those states Every year.

Conservation activists say that is a good reason to focus on forest conservation and reduction of burning fossil fuels. The recent fall season is not as spectacular as typical in Massachusetts, but given the necessary protection for the forest, leaf peep can continue to be part of the state’s heritage, and nature conservation. Andy Finton, director of landscape conservation and forest ecologist at the Department, said.

“If we can keep large and important forests intact, they provide what we have depended on: clean air, clean water, clean forests, and autumn inspiration,” Finton said. ..

How climate change affects the fall foliage chasing around the United States

Source link How climate change affects the fall foliage chasing around the United States

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