These flowers have experienced “peak blooming” that lasted only a few days, and they have enjoyed a history of more than a thousand years in Japan. The crowd celebrated by watching the party, flocking to the most popular locations to take pictures and picnic under the branches.
But this year, the cherry blossom season has come and gone. This is one of the earliest flowers on record. Scientists warn that this is a sign of a larger climate crisis threatening ecosystems around the world.
In the capital Tokyo, the cherry blossoms bloom on March 22, which is the second earliest date on record.
Dr. Lewis Ziska of the Columbia University School of Environmental Health Sciences said: “As global temperatures rise, last spring’s frost occurred earlier and flowering occurred faster.”
The peak flowering date changes every year, depending on many factors, including weather and rainfall, but it has shown a general trend of moving earlier and earlier. According to Aono’s data, in Kyoto, the peak date hovered around mid-April for centuries, but it began to enter early April in the 1800s. This date only dips into late March in the recorded history.
“Sakura blossoms are very sensitive to temperature,” Aono said. He said: “Blooming and blooming may depend on temperature sooner or later.” “The temperature was very low in the 1820s, but to this day, the temperature has risen by about 3.5 degrees Celsius (6.3 degrees Fahrenheit).”
He added that this year’s season particularly affected the flowering date. Winter is very cold, but it is unusually warm when spring comes, so “after enough rest, the buds are completely awakened”.
Dai Musi, assistant professor of earth sciences at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, said that their early flowering is just the tip of the iceberg of global phenomena, which may undermine the stability of natural systems and national economies.
There are two sources of heat increase, namely urbanization and climate change, which are the main factors that cause the flowers to bloom early. As the degree of urbanization increases, cities tend to be warmer than the surrounding rural areas, which is the so-called heat island effect. But the bigger reason is climate change, which has caused the temperature in the region and around the world to rise.
And these earlier dates are not just a question of tourists scrambling to catch up with the peak bloom when all the petals fall-it may have a lasting impact on the entire ecosystem and threaten the survival of many species.
Every action will have a reaction
Dai said that plants and insects depend on each other, and they both use environmental cues to “regulate the timing of various stages of their life cycle.” For example, plants sense the surrounding temperature, and if they are warm enough for a certain period of time, they will begin to bloom and leaves begin to appear. Similarly, the life cycle of insects and other animals also depends on temperature, which means that higher heat will lead to faster growth.
Tai said: “The relationship between plants, insects and other organisms has been developed for many years, from thousands to millions of years.” “But in the last century, climate change has indeed destroyed everything and disrupted everything. These relationships.”
Different plants and insects may react to the rise in heat at different speeds, making their life cycles out of sync. Although they used to time growth at the same time every spring, now the flowers may bloom before the insects are ready, and vice versa-meaning “insects may not find enough food from the plant to eat, and the plant does not pollinate enough Medium (copy),” he said.
Dai said: “Ecosystems are not used to such large fluctuations, which puts a lot of pressure on them.” “Productivity may decrease, and the ecosystem may even collapse in the future.”
Not limited to sakura
The impact of climate change is not limited to cherry blossoms. “Cherry blossoms are eye-catching and people like to see them, but the life cycles of many other plants are also changing and may even have a greater impact. Their ecosystems are stable.”
In some areas, farmers may be forced to change the types of crops they grow. Some climates will become too hot for current growth, while others will see more flooding, more snow and moisture in the air, which will also limit the crops that can be grown.
“(Farmers) have a hard time predicting when they will have a good year and when they will have a bad year,” Dai said. “Agriculture is more like a gamble now, because climate change is randomizing what is happening in our ecosystem.”