While the recent snowfall and chilly temperatures had many New Yorkers worried that spring would never arrive, spring actually arrived early in the New York City area this year. According to the U.S. Geological Survey’s National Phenology Network, or NPN, plant behavior across a large portion of the United States, including New York City, predicted an early onset of “biological spring” this year.
Business Insider reports that the NPN keeps tracks of “Extended Spring Indices” across the country. These indices track when plants and flowers start sprouting buds and leaves, indicating that spring has officially begun according to Mother Nature, if not the calendar. And according to this year’s data, an unusually warm winter caused plants to start spring’s biological processes early.
“All of the recent heat has pushed the biological spring forward,” Jake Weltzin, executive director of the NPN, said in a statement to The New York Times. In New York City, this process was especially evident in Brooklyn more so than Manhattan, he said.
While this study is not meant to predict climate change, Weltzin said, earlier spring is an indication of this global warming pattern. While early spring might seem like good news to the 47% of campers who head to the great outdoors simply for the love of camping in the great outdoors, the national parks will not experience such positive outlooks if temperatures continue to rise. Weltzin cited a 2016 study showing the early onset of spring in 75 of 300 national parks over the past century, which suggests a fast changing climate.
In other cities that experienced this premature warmth, early spring rhythms already had a negative affect on local flora. In Washington, D.C., for example, the famed magnolia blossoms bloomed early following February thaws. A sudden freeze, however, soon killed the flowers, according to Business Insider. Early spring also causes mosquito and tick season to begin earlier and tricks migratory birds into returning too soon, Weltzin said. When freezing temperatures follow, this results in cold birds, dying plants, and crop loss, setting up the affected regions for more problems later this year.
Photo Credit: Carl Mikoy