Extreme drought in the Northeast could ruin fall colors this year


Three years ago, Andy Finton planted his favorite sugar maple tree in the backyard of his home outside of Boston. Each fall, he waits for its leaves to turn into the bright red or deep orange fall color the tree is known for.

That probably won’t happen this year.

severe drought spreading and intensifying in new england Concerns are growing about how vibrant the region’s fall colors will be this summer, and that the lackluster outlook will affect the multi-billion dollar fall tourism industry.

Finton, landscape conservation director and forest ecologist at The Nature Conservancy in Massachusetts, told CNN: “So the leaves are withering, withering, changing autumn colors before the crisp autumn evenings.”

According to the US Drought Monitor, Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Connecticut are all in full drought despite recent rainfall.According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, much of New England is Record-breaking heat in AugustDrought combined with extreme temperatures in the summer made it seem like fall came early for the trees, says Richard B. Primack, a professor of biology and plant ecology at Boston University.

“The climate is changing. Plants are responding to it because the climate is changing,” Primack told CNN. The best time to see the autumn leaves usually starts around the end of September and peaks from early to mid-October. “But in a year with drought, like this year, the leaves actually start to fall earlier.”

New England’s fall season brings about $8 billion in tourism revenue each year, according to the New England Tourism Association. US Forest ServiceMany people from all over Japan, especially the Tohoku region, come to see the picturesque autumn foliage. But despite the changes, tour companies have yet to feel the economic impact. There is a conversation going on in the industry about how the changing climate is affecting fall colors.

Michelle Pino, vice president and co-founder of Northeast Unlimited Tours, told CNN, “We’ve been talking about this exact topic all summer long, but the drought has really impacted fall colors. I am aware of the need to give Already booked and that he paid at least a year in advance.

Primack said the changing climate also affects year-to-year variability. New England already has one of the most variable climates of any temperate region in the world, and rising temperatures will only increase that change.

“Every year looks really different,” he said.

For example, last year was the wettest year on record in New England. His July 2021 in Massachusetts was the wettest month in the state’s history. In contrast to this year’s drought, last summer’s heavy rains and high temperatures stressed the trees, prompting them to change leaves later in the season.

This year’s drought caused the opposite stress. There was not enough rain on the trees, which caused the leaves to wither and die much faster.

According to Pino, the main concern this year will be tours booked in late October. When we planned our tour for 2021, we booked according to the leaf forecast. But “over the last decade, the leaf color has gradually slowed, so the fall tour has started to shift from the second half of September when she’s the third week of October,” she said. . “Of course, we could not have predicted this drought.”

A farmer releases a handful of dry soil in Rhode Island in August. Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Rhode Island are all in drought.

Finton says the perfect conditions for getting the best fall colors — reds and oranges that attract leaf peepers to the northeast — require average rainfall in the summer, cold nights and bright days. You mentioned you want cool temperatures in autumn that are crisp and sunny around 50 to 60 degrees Fahrenheit.

Just like humans, trees can sense winter coming and react to changes accordingly.

“Although the length of daylight is the primary factor in leaf color change in the fall, the timing and quality of foliage is highly dependent on weather and climate change,” says Finton.

From late September to October, plants commonly undergo a process called leaf senescence, Primack explained. It can also be caused by environmental stressors such as drought, extreme temperatures, or too much precipitation.

If temperatures are warm and rains keep the ground moist (indicating that winter is still ahead), the leaves will change color later in the season. This year it’s the other way around. Trees are experiencing leaf aging and color changes faster than normal because the plants aren’t getting enough water.

New England has had some rainfall this summer, but not enough to overcome drought conditions.

Experts say the effects of drought are particularly pronounced in areas that tend to be dry on average, such as areas along railroad tracks, tree-lined streets and dry rock ridges.

“If you go out into the woods in the Boston area, there’s a lot of dead leaves on the ground now, and they’re brown and they haven’t changed color,” Primack says. “The conditions were very harsh for the trees and shrubs, and the leaves were dying off.”

Finton said the world needs to work together to reduce global warming emissions and reduce stress on the planet’s trees and forests.

He also said there is still hope for fall foliage in the northeast, including the sugar maples in our backyard, given the recent rainfall.

“I know it’s alive and still relatively healthy, and if this year isn’t that year, I hope it will be next year,” Finton said. “Our trees and forests are inherently very resilient.”

Source: www.cnn.com

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