Photo Caption: The leaves on trees near the White Mountains in northern New Hampshire wore brilliant reds, yellows and oranges in 2014. Warmer temperatures and extreme weather, however, could mute fall tones and affect the length of the leaf-peeping season. (Jim Cole/AP)
Climate Signals summary: As climate change causes warm seasons to last longer and cold seasons to be milder, the annual changing of the leaves from green to shades of red, orange, and yellow are happening later than before. Additionally, an increase in extreme weather has, in some cases, caused the colors of the leaves to be duller.
Article excerpt: 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.
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.”
Predictive maps based on historical and current weather data, like the interactive map below, show peak season will occur in mid- to late October over much of the eastern United States this year, but climate change is expected to keep nudging these dates backward in the coming decades.
You can find the full story by Kasha Patel here: https://www.washingtonpost.com/weather/2021/10/06/fall-foliage-leaves-climate-change/