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Maps track early arrival of spring (USA National Phenology Network)

Maps track early arrival of spring

If it feels like spring is early this year, that's not just your imagination. A new set of maps from the USA National Phenology Network shows just how ahead of schedule spring has sprung across the county.

To build the maps, the researchers used the Spring Leaf and Bloom Indices, which are climate change indicators based on nationwide field observations collected about when enough heat has accumulated to initiate leafing and blooming in common and temperature-sensitive flowering plants.

That information was combined with recent nationwide heat and temperature data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, including daily data used for the National Weather Service, and historical daily data from a database maintained by Oregon State University, all adjusted each day to a two-mile resolution, according to a report from the U.S. Geological Survey, the lead agency in the National Phenology Network.

When the researchers applied the plant models to the recent weather data, they were able to create national-scale daily maps of leaf emergence for these plant species.  By comparing the daily maps from this year to historical maps created the same way, they were able to show differences between this year and the long-term average (1981-2010).

Data used to develop these maps was collected by volunteers who recorded and shared phenological observations across the nation.

The USA National Phenology Network is a partnership among governmental and nongovernmental science and resource management agencies and organizations, the academic community and the public. 

Posted by GCN Staff on Feb 28, 2017 at 11:05 AM


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