The gardens at Brooklyn Botanical Gardens have shown the effects of climate change every year, with the early bloom of flowers that should not have bloomed yet. Snowdrops and daffodils usually bloom in late winter to early spring and bloomed snowdrops are the first sign that spring is coming. However, for them to bloom in the middle of February is alarming because it was weeks earlier than normal. Because of global warming, this year, the Earth’s warmer temperatures prompted the daffodils at the Brooklyn Botanical Garden to sprout in mid-February. Our tour guides, Barbara Kurland and Kate Fermoile, explained the flowers should’ve sprouted later, as it was still winter and too cold for it to be spring. Even some trees and bushes have shown budding which was a bit earlier than normal, and odd to see on a cold winter day. Plants that sprout too early can be killed by the cold chill at night. Flowers that bloom earlier than usual are signs of the climate changing. In New York, this winter was on average warmer than normal and that has been showing every year.
Snowdrops bloomed at Brooklyn Botanical Garden. Photograph by City Tech Student Ishaat Hossain
To some people, earlier and warmer spring days may seem nice, but this unusual early spring has many downsides to plants and animals. Many animals rely on the coming warm weather of spring every year to migrate or wake up from hibernation. Small insects also come out but risk the danger of dying because of the frost and cold can still come with the decreasing temperatures at night. Some animals may be fine with the lower temperatures, but the animals and insects that do not handle the cold well can die from the frost. Butterflies that migrate to the warmer temperatures down south come back earlier with each year, another sign of climate change. In the article “Increasing phenological asynchrony between spring green-up and arrival of migratory birds”, the studied data show that birds are arriving earlier, before green vegetation appears. So not only are flowers affected by sprouting or flowering early, birds also migrate back earlier with every year.
The fact that early warm temperatures in February are still accompanied by cold winter chills coming could be seen in a scenario from the year 2012, which also showed how much damage early springs bring to crops. According to an article by Theresa Crimmins, in March 2012, Michigan received warm temperatures around 80 degrees, which triggered the cherry blossoms to bloom early, but because of the cold weather from March to May, about 90% of the crops were killed, resulting in damages of $200 million. A similar event occurred 2017, with peach flowers in Georgia where “frost killed up to 80% of the crop”. Apple, pear, and plum blossoms are also affected by the early spring. The early flowering also changes the timing of when bees come out to pollenate because the bees rely on the snow melting to come out. There would be less crops and this would increase the prices of staple crops, which affects the diets of people.
Although warmer weather may seem pleasant, it is sending plants and animals through a world of confusion and the changes that come from this early spring would continue to show every year with increased effects.
Crimmins, Theresa. “Spring Is Arriving Earlier Across The US, And That’s Not Always Good News”. The Conversation, 2020, https://theconversation.com/spring-is-arriving-earlier-across-the-us-and-thats-not-always-good-news-129967.