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Japan’s Cherry Blossoms Are Blooming Earlier Because Of Climate Crisis

by : Tom Wood on :
Japan’s Cherry Blossoms Are Blooming Earlier Because Of Climate Crisis
Japan’s Cherry Blossoms Are Blooming Earlier Because Of Climate Crisis (Alamy)

 A new study has shown that the blooming of Japan’s cherry blossom trees – a huge cultural event in the country – is happening earlier in the year because of human-driven climate change.

During the spring months, thousands of people flock to see Japan’s cherry blossom trees in all their glory.

It’s an annual event that has become synonymous with the country, but now it seems as if it is happening earlier and earlier because of climate change and the rising global temperature.

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Researchers from the UK’s Met Office and Japanese scientists from Osaka Metropolitan University have claimed that the climate crisis and warming in urban areas has moved the ‘peak bloom’ period forward by about 11 days.

Cherry blossom festivals are a huge cultural event in Japan. Credit: Alamy
Cherry blossom festivals are a huge cultural event in Japan. Credit: Alamy

This is economically important because there is a lot of tourism around the times of peak bloom, meaning that businesses can cash in on the influx of tourists travelling to see the pink flowers.

Last year, the peak bloom happened on 26 March, the earliest date in 1,200 years.

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This year, the cherry blossoms came out at their peak on 1 April.

Writing in journal Environmental Research Letters, the researchers said the early flowering of the cherry blossoms is now becoming more common.

There is a correlation between the early flowering and rising temperatures, with the average temperature in Kyoto city centre rising by several degrees over the past few centuries.

Tourists flock to see the bloom every year. Credit: Alamy
Tourists flock to see the bloom every year. Credit: Alamy
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Some of this is down to climate change and some is due to the fact that urban areas are warmer than rural areas because of buildings and roads absorbing more heat from the sun.

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However, climate change is the real issue her, according to the scientists.

Fossil fuel emissions have caused global temperatures to rise, meaning the cherry blossoms are something of a harbinger of things to come if serious action isn’t taken very soon.

Obviously, there are much more severe consequences to climate inaction, but that doesn’t mean we can’t learn from this.

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The study’s lead author, Met Office climate scientists Dr Nikos Christidis, said: "Our research shows that not only have human-induced climate change and urban warming already impacted the flowering dates of cherry blossom in Kyoto, but that extremely early flowering dates, as in 2021, are now estimated to be 15 times more likely, and are expected to occur at least once a century.

"Such events are projected to occur every few years by 2100 when they would no longer be considered extreme."

Climate change is affecting the bloom of the trees. Credit: Alamy
Climate change is affecting the bloom of the trees. Credit: Alamy

As well as the economic impact of the early blooming, climate change and rising temperatures could have a significant effect on farming and land management in Japan, the study found.

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Indeed, it could even affect the survival of certain species and the destruction of ecosystems.

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Topics: News, Climate Change, World News, Science, Weather