The earliest that cherry blossoms have bloomed in the past 1,200 years has just been recorded in Japan. Scientists are warning that the event is a sign of symptoms and a larger, looming climate crisis.
Cherry blossoms are synonymous with Japan. When spring arrives in Japan, the petals of the iconic white and pink flowers, known as “sakura,” are seen everywhere. The breathtaking sight only lasts a few days, as flowers reach their “peak bloom” quite rapidly. For thousands of years, this event has been celebrated, and viewing parties are popular.
Something changed in 2021 for the peak bloom of the cherry blossoms. Even though the event is short-lived, this year was exceptionally fast. It was described as coming and going in the blink of an eye. Further, the event came much earlier than normal, one of the earliest blooms on record. In fact, records show that the only time a bloom like the 2021 event occurred was over 1,200 years ago.
Scientists say the early occurrence and short length of the cherry blossoms in Japan this year are a symptom of the larger climate crisis that is affecting ecosystems everywhere, CNN reported.
Record keeping in the city of Kyoto on cherry blooms goes all the way back to 812 A.D., as found in historical documents and diaries. Yasuyuki Aono, a researcher at Osaka Prefecture University, went through the records and found that the blooms in Kyoto on March 26, 2021, were the earliest to have occurred in over 1200 years.
In Tokyo, the blooms on March 22, 2021, are the second-earliest on record.
“Sakura blooms are very temperature sensitive,” Aono said. “Flowering and full bloom could be earlier or later depending on the temperature alone.”
“The temperature was low in the 1820s, but it has risen by about 3.5 degrees Celsius (6.3 degrees Fahrenheit) to this day,” Aono added.
According to Dr. Lewis Ziska from Columbia University’s Environmental Health Sciences department, spring is happening earlier all around the globe.
“As global temperatures warm, the last spring frosts are occurring earlier and flowering is occurring sooner,” Dr. Ziska said.
In general, cherry blossoms in Kyoto, Japan, are blooming about 10 days earlier than they did 100 years ago, according to research in the International Journal of Biometeorology. The research says that the earlier blooming events correlate with rising temperatures. Further, these results suggest that climate change is having an effect on the length of growing seasons.
The changing of growing seasons could also be changing the early blooming of weeds. We control has its own problems, as some of the chemicals and the products have led to weed killer lawsuits.