The climate crisis is making Japan's cherry blossoms bloom earlier

Wahoo Newspaper -- May 21
Every spring, crowds flock to admire Japan's cherry blossom — a dazzling pink and white bloom that has been revered in the country for more than a thousand years. But the world-famous sakura plants are flowering much earlier than normal due to human-induced climate change, a new study has found.

Researchers from the Met Office in the United Kingdom and Osaka Metropolitan University in Japan say the climate crisis and urban warming have pushed forward the "peak bloom" flowering period by 11 days.

In 2021, cherry blossoms in the historic central city of Kyoto peaked on March 26 — the earliest full flowering date in 1,200 years. This year, the cherry blossoms burst into color on April 1.

The scientists, who published their findings in the journal Environmental Research Letters on May 20, said that extreme early flowering of the cherry blossoms is now more common.

The trend of earlier peak blooms coincides with rising temperatures. Average March temperatures in Kyoto city center have increased by several degrees since pre-industrial times, under the influence of both climate change and urban warming, the scientists observed.

Part of the reason is increased urbanization. Cities tend to be warmer than surrounding rural areas because buildings and roads absorb the sun's heat more than natural landscapes — a phenomena known as the heat island effect.

But scientists say a bigger reason is the climate crisis, in which the burning of fossil fuels has caused rising temperatures across the region and the world. ...continue reading