Indicator : indicator-start-of-spring-2019

Indicator: Start of Spring

2019 indicator

Key Points: On average, the start of spring has occurred earlier in the contiguous United States since 1984. A trend toward earlier springs could have significant implications for agriculture, natural resource and hazard management, and recreation. About the Indicator: This indicator estimates the annual start of spring on the basis of when growth can begin for temperature-sensitive native and cultivated plants. It can be used to monitor, assess, and predict variations and trends in spring timing at the national scale. The annual start of spring can be estimated for any location where daily minimum and maximum temperatures are recorded. The modeled values correlate well with observed leafing and flowering in a number of native and cultivated species, such as winter wheat, pear, and peach varieties. These values are calculated from a numerical model that simulates the accumulation of heat needed to bring plants out of winter dormancy and into vegetative and reproductive growth. The model is based on: - Long-term observations of lilac and honeysuckle first-leaf and first-bloom, collected by citizen science volunteers at hundreds of sites across the contiguous United States - Daily minimum and maximum temperatures measured at weather stations Why It’s Important: - The earlier arrival of the start of spring has been linked to recent warming trends in global climate. - This indicator can help decision makers understand and anticipate climate impacts on: habitats and species, agricultural production, recreation, the management of natural hazards such as wildfires

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