The Two Degree Difference: Climate change’s impact on Fall foliage

Two Degree Difference

A true sign that fall has arrived… the colors!

Brilliant reds, vibrant yellows, and deep oranges, the palette of colors endlessly sweeps across the mountain peaks and valleys marking the end of the hot summer months.

But as our global temperature continues to rise, those warm, above average temperatures are sticking around well into the fall months, and it’s confusing the leaves.

“The last several years we’ve seem to have summer like conditions well into September” said Vermont’s Department of Forests, Parks and Recreation Commissioner Michael Snyder

In fact over the past 5 years we’ve seen 4 of the top 5 warmest Septembers on record which according to Snyder actually helps to slow the change, keeping the leave on the trees longer.

“An extended growing season into the fall making the season come a little bit later more gradually or lasting a little bit longer” said Snyder.

We all know that each foliage season is unique, some years the colors are bright and vibrant, while others end up looking a bit muted. Some years you find a lot of yellows and oranges, others features deep red, and factors including temperature, rainfall, humidity, even drought can have an impact on the beauty of the show every year.

“A moderate amount of drought stress which we’ve experience to some extent in some places actually many enhance color development and intensity. No reason to think that we won’t have brilliant fall color but its just may be timed different in different species in different places from year to year” according to Snyder.

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