UK researchers found that between 1793 and 1986, the average date for the first blooms was about May 12th. But in recent years, due to climate change, flowers are now blooming almost a month earlier, on April 16th. During the most recent recorded year, 2019, spring arrived 42 days earlier than the pre-1986 average.
“The results are truly alarming, because of the ecological risks associated with earlier flowering times.” – Professor at the University of Cambridge, who led the research.
But the even bigger risk is “ecological mismatch”, when plants and hibernating or migrating insects, birds and other wildlife are no longer synchronised. “That can lead species to collapse if they can’t adapt quickly enough”. Such mismatches are already being seen, for example, the bees fly before flowers have bloomed, making pollination less likely.
The researchers concluded that if plants in the UK continued to flower earlier, and climatic extremes increased further, then “biological, ecological and agricultural systems will be at an unprecedented risk”. Farmers could suffer, for example, if fruit trees were flowering early and then a late frost killed the entire crop.