Quantcast

State-by-State Look at the Shift in Spring's Arrival

Climate

Climate Central

For most of the country spring has sprung earlier this year, but is this anything more than a single warm year? It seems that it is. Over the past several decades, with the exception of the Southeast, spring weather has indeed been arriving earlier.

In the interactive below, you can see how much earlier spring has arrived state-by-state, measured by the date of first leaf. As you hover over any state, it'll display two boxes—a gray box that represents the day spring used to arrive (based on the 1951-1980 average) and a colored box that represents how much earlier spring has arrived (based on the 1981-2010 average).  

Nationwide, the date of “first leaf” has clearly shifted—arriving roughly 4 days earlier now on March 17 (1981-2010 average) from March 20 (1951-1980 average). This shift affects all sorts of biological processes that are triggered by warmer temperatures—not just flowering, but animal migration and giving birth and the shedding of winter coats and the emergence from cocoons. How much will an earlier spring disrupt the intricate natural balance between the tens of thousands of species that depend on each other for food, reproduction and ultimately, survival?  No one really knows.  

The data behind the map comes from an index for the onset of spring developed by Mark D. Schwartz (University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee) and USA National Phenology Network colleagues. The index, based on temperature variables measured at individual weather stations, estimates the first day that leaves appear on plants in a given state. To come up with a U.S. estimate as a whole, we took the average change across 716 weather stations spread across the lower 48 states.

To use the map's interactive features, click here.

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Catherine Flessen / Flickr / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

By Jillian Kubala, MS, RD

Non-perishable foods, such as canned goods and dried fruit, have a long shelf life and don't require refrigeration to keep them from spoiling. Instead, they can be stored at room temperature, such as in a pantry or cabinet.

Read More
Tero Vesalainen / iStock / Getty Images

By Julia Ries

  • Two flu strains are overlapping each other this flu season.
  • This means you can get sick twice from different flu strains.
  • While the flu vaccine isn't a perfect match, it's the best defense against the flu.

To say this flu season has been abnormal is an understatement.

Read More
Sponsored
Pexels

By Andrew Joseph Pegoda

At least 40 percent to 90 percent of American voters stay home during elections, evidence that low voter turnout for both national and local elections is a serious problem throughout the U.S.

Read More
Arx0nt / Moment / Getty Images

By Alina Petre, MS, RD

Vitamin D, also known as the sunshine vitamin, is a fat-soluble vitamin essential for optimal health.

Read More
Plastic waste that started as packaging clogs tropical landfills. apomares / iStock / Getty Images

By Clyde Eiríkur Hull and Eric Williams

Countries around the world throw away millions of tons of plastic trash every year. Finding ways to manage plastic waste is daunting even for wealthy nations, but for smaller and less-developed countries it can be overwhelming.

Read More