Report: Climate change could bring spring 3 weeks early

Spring already arrives early in Pacific Northwest


A new report says spring may arrive three weeks earlier over the next century as climate change drives an earlier end to winters in areas of the United States.

Researchers from the University of Wisconsin, U.S. Geological Survey and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service say warmer weather earlier in the year might have consequences for farmers as well as wildlife.

The researchers used methods to predict the dates of leaf and flower emergence based on day length. These general models capture the seasonal cycle of many plant species.

Their results show particularly rapid shifts in plant phenology in the Pacific Northwest and Mountainous regions of the western U.S., with smaller shifts in southern areas, where spring already arrives early.

"Our projections show that winter will be shorter—which sound great for those of us in Wisconsin," Andrew Allstadt, a researcher at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and an author on the paper, said in a statement "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."

The report was published in the journal Environmental Research Letters.