Climate change has caused cherry blossoms to hit earlier peaks

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The Washington Memorial behind blooming cherry trees near the Tidal Basin in Washington, D.C., on Sunday.
Photo: Roberto Schmidt/AFP via Getty ImagesWhat we’re watching: Cherry trees blossoming early makes them vulnerable to any quick cold snap, which can still occur at this time of year, even if temperatures have been warmer overall.
“Approximately half of the Yoshino blossoms were lost due to a late frost that occurred March 14-16, 2017,” per a statement by the National Park Service in analysis of the trees’ peak bloom trends.
Between the lines: Climate Central analysis of National Weather Service data out last week shows the average spring temperature in D.C. has increased 3.6 degrees from 1970 to 2023.
And while spring is warming, the season is also coming in sooner at the winter margin.
This trend is also happening in Japan, where meteorologists forecast the national flower would peak bloom on March 25 — the earliest date on record.
What they’re saying: Across Japan, “since 1953, the average start date for the sakura to bloom has become earlier, at a pace of 1.2 days every 10 years,” said Daisuke Sasano, a climate risk management officer at the Japan Meteorological Agency, in an online briefing referring to the Japanese word for the tree’s flowering.
This is due to the long-term effects of global warming, according to Sasano, who spoke in Japanese via an English translator during last Tuesday’s briefing.
Sasano said if increasing temperatures continued to cause earlier blooms or shorter blossom phases it could “impact tourist destinations where the flowers are considered as important resources.”
Go deeper: RIP Stumpy: D.C.’s favorite short king will be cut down this year

Washington, D.C. – The Washington Memorial is located behind cherry blossoms close to the Tidal Basin. on Sunday. Image courtesy of Getty Images and Roberto Schmidt/AFP.

What we’re watching: Even though temperatures have been warm overall, cherry trees that bloom early are still susceptible to any sudden cold snap.

After analyzing the peak bloom trends of the trees, the National Park Service released a statement stating that “a late frost that occurred March 14-16, 2017” caused the loss of about half of the Yoshino blossoms.

Interpreting the data: The average spring temperature in D.C was determined by Climate Central using data from the National Weather Service released last week. between 1970 and 2023, has risen by 3° 6 degrees.

Furthermore, even though spring is getting warmer, winter is ending earlier.

This pattern is also evident in Japan, where meteorologists predict that the country’s national flower will peak bloom on March 25, the earliest date ever recorded.

In an online briefing, Daisuke Sasano, a climate risk management officer at the Japan Meteorological Agency, stated that, “since 1953, the average start date for the sakura to bloom has become earlier, at a pace of 1.2 days every 10 years,” referring to the Japanese term for the tree’s flowering.

During the briefing last Tuesday, Sasano, speaking in Japanese through an English interpreter, stated that this was caused by the long-term effects of global warming.

According to Sasano, “tourism destinations where the flowers are considered as important resources” may be impacted if rising temperatures continue to result in earlier blooms or shorter bloom phases. “.

Expand: Stumpy, RIP: DdotC. This year, everyone’s favorite short king will be chopped down.

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