For those of us living in North Carolina, the recent cold snap and onion snow might have us feeling blue. For the last month, folks have been outside in their shorts and sandals, enjoying the sunshine and warm temperatures. The early arrival of spring, from frog calls to spring flowers to the emergence of bees, have given way to many conversations about what an early spring could mean for the rest of the season.
Early springtime weather did not hit North Carolina alone. The New York Times recently published an article on early spring, and the United States Geological Survey (USGS) examined some of the consequences of the early spring in the southeast. In the article by the USGS, the author stated that these “[c]hanges in the timing of spring can affect human health, bringing early-season disease-carriers such as ticks and mosquitos, and an earlier, longer and more vigorous pollen season.”
As I sat outside and enjoyed the warm temperatures in February, I thought about these articles and my own research. Will it matter if the flowers begin blooming earlier than their pollinators emerge? Will strawberry farmers in the area be able to produce a healthy crop after unexpected frosty temperatures? Although many of these questions remain unanswered, there is a lot of ongoing research asking questions about climate change and phenology, or the timing of life cycle events in plants and animals. If you are interested in learning more about phenology or learning how to help with phenological research, visit the National Phenology Network webpage.
National Phenology Network:
NY Times article about indicators of spring:
NY Times article about early spring: