Spring flowers blooming much earlier, based on Leopold, Thoreau records

2013-01-17T09:30:00Z Spring flowers blooming much earlier, based on Leopold, Thoreau recordsBILL NOVAK | The Capital Times | bnovak@madison.com madison.com

How do scientists know spring flowers are blooming much earlier than they did years ago? By looking at meticulous records kept by American naturalists Henry David Thoreau and Wisconsin's own Aldo Leopold.

In a study published Wednesday, researchers from Boston and Harvard Universities and UW-Madison said some species are blooming almost a full month earlier.

The research was disclosed in a UW-Madison news release.

"In 2012, the warmest spring on record in Wisconsin, plants bloomed on average nearly a month earlier than they did just 67 years earlier, when Leopold made his last entry in his records," the release said.

The study used Thoreau's records of 32 native plant species in Concord, Mass., gathered between 1852 and 1858, and data of flowering times for 23 species in southern Wisconsin compiled by Leopold, between 1935 and 1945.

"These historical records provide a snapshot in time and a baseline of sorts, against which we can compare more recent records from the period in which climate change has accelerated," said Stan Temple, co-author of the study and professor emeritus of wildlife ecology at UW-Madison.

Two examples of early blooming today when matched up against the naturalists' work show the dramatic differences in this age of global warming.

Leopold observed the black cherry tree blooming in southern Wisconsin in 1942, noting the first blooms on May 31, when the mean temperature was 48 degrees.

In 2012, the mean spring temperature in southern Wisconsin was 54 degrees, and black cherry trees were blooming as early as May 6.

Leopold also observed bloodroot blooming on April 12 in 1942, when the same wildflower started blooming on March 17 in 2012.

The work has implications for predicting plant responses to changing climate, essential for plants such as fruit trees which are highly susceptible to the vagaries of climate and weather.

"Earlier blooming exposes plants to a greater risk of experiencing cold snaps that can damage blossoms and prevent fruiting," Temple said.

Door County's cherry crop was ruined in 2012 when trees bloomed very early because of record-breaking warmth followed by a frost.


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(10) Comments

  1. rrivoire
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    rrivoire - January 21, 2013 11:58 am
    I challenge you to find a single credible source that indicates polar bear population was 5000 in 1950. A single peer reviewed estimate since you seem to be so hung up on that, at least as far as the ICC. Unattributed or footnoted charts in the WSJ don't count.

    And even if you do demonstrate that the population was 5000, you could dig a little deeper and you'd find that trophy hunting was curtailed after the 70's. Bear population is increasing because of hunting controls. Kind of like the wolf Up North. But don't let facts get in the way of your hilarious jibes and global-warming-is-a-hoax narrative.

    And you now do understand that AK is warming, right, in spite of the fact that '12 just happened to be slightly cooler than the previous year? Can I explain what a trend is for you?
  2. human
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    human - January 18, 2013 10:44 am
    Also: hurricanes, tornadoes, floods and drought: every kind of extreme weather you can imaging.

    Sounds like fun, doesn't it?
  3. Cornelius Gotchberg
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    Cornelius Gotchberg - January 17, 2013 5:34 pm
    @meredithrobert3 is a global Warming alarmist whose funding was cut and now has to resort to a different kind of scam.

    Still has the same figure misrepresentations, though.
  4. Cornelius Gotchberg
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    Cornelius Gotchberg - January 17, 2013 4:42 pm

    "So much information is avaliable to back up global warming." Then even the most committed alarmist would agree that there should be no reason for the absolutely stunning amount of data manipulation, research fraud, unilateral adjustment of past temperature records, right?

    Even the most ardent of the rock stars of Climate Science, (trying to dodge increasingly negative press in the seemingly safe confines of the EAU & the U.K. Met Office) have come out and said there hasn't been any warming in 16 years and they don't expect any in the next 4-5 years. Know what the kicker is? THEY CAN'T FREAKING EXPLAIN IT. In their own words they have no earthly idea how to account for the small matter of a inconsequential phenonenon known to laypeople as 'natural variability.'

    I realize the Lefty press has been avoiding this like the plague; they have all the way along. It's been well documented that Glacier National Park started losing glacial ice even before it became a park in 1910. Why wait for 2040; Fat Albert said the arctic would be ice-free this year, and his credibility is umimpeachable. There was record low sea ice (previous record 2007) but what the Alarmists fail to acknowledge is there was an immense arctic cyclone (due to global warming I'm sure) that broke up portions that floated into warmer water and melted.

    No mention, though, of the record fast refreeze weeks later. If you believe Japanese history, (which would involve questioning @kash-kat's 300 million year whopper) they fished in an ice-free arctic during the MWP. You may not of heard of the MWP because Fat Albert's schlockumentary "An Inconvenient Truth" and the laughably discredited 'Hockey Stick' Theory tried to airbrush it from historical record. Why? it doesn't support the narrative.

    The poor Polar Bear? What to do with an iconic species in the throes of a horrendous population increase of over 650 % since the 1950's. Ths sinking Maldives? They've built 4 new airports and a new golf course (for "fly-in" golfers!) with the half a BILLION that some guilt-riden suckers gave them as 'climate reparations.'

    Know why they've been pushing the fact that it was soooo hot in the 'contiguous' U.S.? Alaska was cooler and adding in that ~ 15 % of our land mass would have pushed average warming down a tad, and we can't have that. Globally, temperatures have been flat, but you can't expect to sell fear to the Lefty lemmings with the truth.

    And 2012 and 'extreme weather?' It was remarkably 'unremarkable' if you look at the data rather than some MSM headline.

    Thoreau, and to an extent Leopold, were 'observing' at the tail-end of the LIA (~ 1850). This also incuriously enough, happens to be the warmista's favorite base year.

    I'm not trying to sell the warmistas on giving up their scam; it's a statist's freakin' wet dream!
    Just try backing up your pie-in-the-warming-sky claims. Even Fat Albert has effectively signed a non-aggression pact with Big Oil.

    I can hardly wait for 'An Inconvenient Truth: the sequel." In it Fat Albert will do everything he can to keep from laughing his over-sized @$$ off at how he scammed all you guilt -suffocated Lefties. Maybe he'll confess that you all should have known it was bull$h!+, if you'd just have opened your lyin' eyes, with his profligate lifestyle: the mansions, tthe SUVs, the private jets, the house boat...THE HUNDREDS OF MILLIONS OF DOLLAR$ he suckered you out of.

    The Gotch

  5. Cheezer
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    Cheezer - January 17, 2013 3:04 pm
    Flowers, sunshine, warmth! Global warming? Bring it on!!!!!
  6. kashka-kat
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    kashka-kat - January 17, 2013 2:40 pm
    Yep, what I said - averages over time. Arctic/antarctic Ice core samples go back many thousands of years - climate can be determined by chemical what was in the ice at the time it was laid down.
  7. dora1
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    dora1 - January 17, 2013 1:57 pm
    So much information is available to back up global warming. Melting of glaciers is normal. But the rates have doubled faster than predicted due to industrialization, burning coal, oil, and deforestation. The Arctic will be ice free b 2040. Glacier National Park had 250 glaciers in the years 1850-1910 and now there are 25 large ones. They will be gone by 2030. /this article can use the comparison since in global warming, there will be more instances of drastic weather changes from year to year. As a gardener, I can see flowers coming up earlier each year, whether we have a cold spring one year or an early spring. Flowers are adjusting to the climate change, too or they do not survive. It is not survival of the fittest. It is the survival of the ones most able and willing to adapt.
  8. Retoother
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    Retoother - January 17, 2013 1:38 pm
    You take averages not one year cycles. The 6 and 10 year observations are a long enough time period either.
  9. kashka-kat
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    kashka-kat - January 17, 2013 1:08 pm
    Well, what's a "typical year" Mike Dwyer? Scientists are dealing with averages over time, not what is happening in any one given year. Also, there is the evidence of direct observation: the Arctic Ocean is expected to be ice free within 50 years, which has not happened in over 300 million years. Methane from the thawing of frozen plant material is bubbling up in Alaska and Siberia from millions of years ago. Sure people deny this is happening - but they look rather foolish, like members of the Flat Earth Society.
  10. MikeDwyer
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    MikeDwyer - January 17, 2013 12:30 pm
    This article is misleading and TERRIBLE science! Not all winters are mild or harsh, and farmers' almanacs have been trying to predict which way they will go. As the article admitted,"
    In 2012, the warmest spring on record in Wisconsin," (which is not exactly typical), and use this unusual year to compare to earlier record? Only four years earlier, the winter of 2007/2008 in Wisconsin was described as "longer, colder, and snowier than many of us can remember" on the Wisconsin Historical Society webpage. I bet if that year was compared to Leopold or Thoreau's records then some people could claim it shows the effects of global cooling over the last 100 years! Let’s compare a TYPICAL year to a TYPICAL year guys. This article should be DISCOUNTED.

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