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

California Gov. Gavin Newsom speaking with attendees at the 2019 California Democratic Party State Convention at the George R. Moscone Convention Center in San Francisco. Gage Skidmore / Flickr / CC BY-SA 2.0

California Gov. Gavin Newsom imposed new restrictions on oil exploration in his state yesterday by putting a moratorium on hundreds hydraulic fracturing permits until the projects are reviewed by independent scientists, as the AP reported.

Read More Show Less
The endangered Houston toad. Courtesy of U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

While the planet continues to heat up, almost every single one of the 459 species listed as endangered in the U.S. will struggle as the climate crisis intensifies, according to new research published in the journal Nature Climate Change.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
"This singular scientific achievement was accomplished at Heliogen's commercial facility in Lancaster, California." Heliogen

A startup backed by Bill Gates unveiled a breakthrough solar technology Tuesday that could free heavy industry from fossil fuels.

Read More Show Less
Rhodiola rosea is an adaptogenic herb that can help with chronic fatigue and stress-related burnout. Tero Laakso / Flickr

By Gavin Van De Walle, MS, RD

While everyone has specific life stressors, factors related to job pressure, money, health, and relationships tend to be the most common.

Stress can be acute or chronic and lead to fatigue, headaches, upset stomach, nervousness, and irritability or anger.

Read More Show Less
A video shows a woman rescuing a koala from Australia's wildfires. VOA News / YouTube screenshot

More than 350 koalas may have died in the wildfires raging near the Australian town of Port Macquarie in New South Wales, but one got a chance at survival after a woman risked her life to carry him to safety.

Read More Show Less