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Md. Scientists Study Why Spring Came Early

A scientific study of the change in the seasons has implications for the tourism and travel industries. Researchers at the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science found that spring is arriving earlier – and autumn will be later – in the suburbs of Baltimore and Washington, D.C.
 
“Spring is arriving earlier in the cities relative to the rural areas, the reason being the cities have warmer climates because of rooftops and asphalt” streets and parking lots, says Andrew Elmore of the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science. “Also, the cities don’t have vegetation around them, which has a cooling effect.”
 
Elmore conducted the research with Steven Guinn, of the UMd. Center, Burke Minsley of the U.S. Geological Survey and Andrew Richardson of Harvard University.

Using high resolution satellite data of trees and forests in the region collected over the past 25 years, the group found that the urban landscape traps heat in the summer and holds it throughout the winter, triggering leaves to turn green earlier in the spring and to stay green later into the fall.

The urban heat islands affected the growing season in areas within 20 miles of the cities, allowing for a longer growing season and the cultivation of new varieties.

Elmore says that temperature difference can have an economic impact. “If spring comes earlier, that’s an important time for tourism,” he says. “There are so many people living in urban areas and they are responding to an earlier spring.”
 
The study did not address climate change specifically, although Elmore may examine that in the future.
 
Source: Andrew Elmore, University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science
Writer: Barbara Pash
 
 
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