Earlier Spring Leaf Unfolding Due To Warming Climate, Say Researchers

First Posted: Oct 01, 2015 03:51 PM EDT

Broadleaf trees may be the solution to reducing global warming, researchers revealed in a recent news release.

An international team of researchers from France, Spain, Switzerland, China, Belgium and Germany have investigated the change in the sensitivity of leaf unfolding to climate warming using long-term observations for seven European tree species at 1245 sites in Central Europe. 

In their assessment, the scientists found that leaf unfolding took place four days earlier per degree Celcius increase in spring temperature between 1980 and 1994; between 1999 and 2013, it dropped 2.3 days per degree, a decrease of over 40 percent, according to a news release.

"This lower sensitivity of trees to climate change likely reflects the reduced cold during winter that delays dormancy release," said Yongshuo H. Fu, who is the first author of this study. 

The study assembled the first set of large-scale evidence gathered for the declining sensitivity of spring seasons to warming in mature trees for Central Europe.

"This study could be perfect mechanism to show that strong winter warming in the future may result in a slowdown in the advance of spring season," Professor Annette Menzel from the Department of Ecoclimatology at Technical University of Munich said in the news release.

The climatic changes in plants is an essential variable in taking in carbon along with the water balance of ecosystems. The reduction in temperature sensitivity of leaf unfolding may lower the the chances for forests to manage the amount of carbon than they do at the moment. This is also a valuable asset for trees since it diminishes late spring frost damage, since harsh climatic changes are expected to expand in future according to a news release. 

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