Scientists have predicted that spring will start coming three weeks earlier than usual by the end of the next century as a result of global warming.
The research team applied the extended Spring Indices to predict the dates of plant-life emergence based on the length of the day, the University of Wisconsin-Madison reported. Their results suggest there may be particularly rapid shifts in plant phenology in the Pacific Northwest and Mountainous regions of the western U.S., as well as smaller shifts in the south that will cause spring to arrive earlier.
"Our projections show that winter will be shorter - which sound greats great for those of us in Wisconsin" said Andrew Allstadt, an author on the paper. "But long distance migratory birds, for example, time their migration based on day length in their winter range. They may arrive in their breeding ground to find that the plant resources that they require are already gone."
In addition to these predictions, the researchers also looked at the phenomenon of "false springs," in which freezes occur after plant growth has already taken place. The models predicted these types of events will become less frequent in the future in most U.S. locations. One exception to this finding is the prediction that a large area of the western Great Plains will likely see an increase in false springs.
"This is important as false springs can damage plant production cycles in natural and agricultural systems" Allstadt said. "In some cases, an entire crop can be lost."
In the future the team plans to make predictions on the future of extreme weather events such as droughts and heat waves, and how these changes will effect wildlife.