Global Warming Brings Spring Flowers, According to Thoreau

First Posted: Jan 17, 2013 09:15 AM EST

It's not only April showers that bring flowers. It's also global warming. A recent study conducted by scientists from Boston University, Harvard University, and the University of Wisconsin found that flowers are blooming earlier and earlier every year in two historical sites.

Using data collected by famous naturalists and authors Henry David Thoreau and Aldo Leopold, the researchers graphed the change in flower bloom times. The 161-year-old and nearly 80-year-old data allowed them to see exactly how much the temperatures had changed. Their findings were drastic and worrisome. After comparing past bloom times with present bloom times, the researchers found that plants, such as serviceberry and nodding trillium, are blooming up to one week earlier.

Thoreau's records had been previously described, but this study was the first to combine the data from the two different historical figures. The study shows that flowers in the wild are adapting to the changing temperatures. In addition, since the sites are so differently, the study implies that these conditions could be affecting vast portions of the U.S. The findings come hard on the heels of recent studies that showed that 2012 was the warmest year on record for the continental U.S.

The study was published online in the Public Library of Science One.

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