Fall Foliage Flopping: How Climate Change is Altering October

October 16, 2021

Why we can’t have nice things anymore.

Washington Post:

Predicting the peak of fall color is complicated. The timing and quality of color changes depend on a combination of temperatures, precipitation and sunlight. The best fall color displays occur after sunshine-filled days and cooler nights, following healthy doses of rain in the summer.

But Cote and researchers have found that estimating fall peak has become even trickier in recent decades. Warmer temperatures have delayed the onset of fall, pushing the peak of fall leaf season back as much as a week in some areas over the past seven decades. Extreme weather events have abruptly curtailed recent seasons or caused the color of the leaves to become duller.

“There has been and will be more variability year-to-year and more uncertainty,” said Andy Finton, a forest ecologist with the Nature Conservancy in Massachusetts. “With climate change, it just adds more complexity to an already complex phenomenon.”

This year, Finton expected a good fall season because of an especially wet summer, for instance. But a recent bout of warm weather in the eastern United States — one of many this summer — could keep the colorful leaves at bay a little longer and lessen their vibrancy.

2 Responses to “Fall Foliage Flopping: How Climate Change is Altering October”

  1. Brent Jensen-Schmidt Says:

    Personal observation here in OZ this century.. Deciduous trees, all non native (?), do not lose all leaves in winter anymore.

  2. indy222 Says:

    The canonical best time for the aspen display in the Eastern Sierra is Oct 23 +- 4 days… I’m hoping against hope that that works this year, as I plan to drive to the Eastern Sierra Oct 20 for a major observational campaign on an asteroid that is the target of the Lucy Mission later this decade. And the aspen are an additional goad, in case clouds or a path shift of our asteroid shadow foils the astronomy. If the aspen are too early, that could be a double whammy. We’ve had very warm summer and early Fall temperatures. Today was one of the hottest of the year in California along the coast where I live.


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