The earliest cherry blossoming ever recorded is happening in Kyoto, Japan. While a colorful bust of cherry blossoms is not uncommon at this time of the year, the peak flowering season in 2021 has come earlier than has ever been recorded. Scientists now link this phenomenon to the warm spring experienced in the Northern Hemisphere.
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Cherry blossom season has been officially documented in Japan since the year 812 CE, with data indicating that the earliest blooming date witnessed in history occurred on March 27, 1409. The Japan Meteorological Agency started collecting data on peak bloom in Kyoto in 1953. Historically, the cherries start flowering in March, but the majority of buds open around April 17, based on historical data.
Climate change and other factors have affected this event, leading to earlier blooms in the past century. Scientists say that full bloom has been repeatedly recorded around April 5 in the past 100 years. But by Friday, March 26, 2021, the full bloom event had already passed, several days before April.
“Evidence, like the timing of cherry blossoms, is one of the historical ‘proxy’ measurements that scientists look at to reconstruct past climate,” climate scientist Michael Mann told the Washington Post. “In this case, that ‘proxy’ is telling us something that quantitative, rigorous long-term climate reconstructions have already told us — that the human-caused warming of the planet we’re witnessing today is unprecedented going back millennia.”
The blooming of Japanese mountain cherries has been documented 732 times since the 9th century. This is the longest record of a seasonal phenomenon that occurs naturally anywhere in the world. Scientists say that throughout the 1,200-year-long record of cherry blossom blooms, there have been clear trends that point to climate change. Scientists have noted that the mountain cherries started flowering earlier in the 1830s. The situation got worse between 1971 and 2000, with records showing that flowering came at least a week earlier than previously recorded averages.
Among the factors that are linked to the early blooming include deforestation and building construction. Regional climate change accounts for about 2.2°C change, which accounts for about 5 days of earlier flowering.
Via Science Alert
Image via Vcentee Alvarado