One of the best memories I have is of the New England area in the US during autumn (or Fall). I was there in 1998 and 1999 – amazing coloured foliage. I’m no expert on the trees represented but I think I remember species called Dogwood, Red Maple and Sassafras. Rich autumnal reds and burgundies; pumpkin-hued leaves; crimson maples. And carpets of crunching leaves on the ground that you could run through.
But it seems that the spectacular foliage is fading. It’s less vivid, less sparkling. Intrepid “leaf peepers”, as tree and foliage lovers are known, make annual treks particularly to Vermont (where I was) to check out the Fall colours. In recent years, however, there are reports that the riotous rust-browns, oranges, reds and yellows of the various trees have shown their colours somewhat sparingly, with many trees changing from the dull green of late summer to the rust-brown of late Fall with no stopping for graduated hues in between.
A plant biologist from the University of Vermont believes that the Fall is now too warm to tempt the rich and vivid colours that used to be so resplendent of the area. Temperatures have been above the 30-year averages in every September and October for the past four years. The colour of trees is related to green chlorophyll, which declines as cold weather sets in. And warmer weather brings out fungi that attacks some trees, particularly the red and sugar maples that are responsible for the most spectacular palette.
Leaf-peeping is a tourist industry. 3.4 million visitors spent nearly $US 364 million in the fall of 2005. And accommodation is sometimes booked out two years in advance. So climate change could be the culprit and the trees used to be at their colour peak in the second week of October. But now the timing is later and some trees are simply going from green to bland and spotty.
Well, if the trees remain bland, leaf-peepers may have to do with looking at these fab pictures – Four Seasons in Each Picture – from Linkinn.
Entry filed under: Climate Change.