As Climate Changes, Tidal Basin Cherry Blossoms Could Peak At Their Earliest Yet

As the planet warms from greenhouse pollution, the Washington DC Cherry Blossom Festival is beginning earlier and earlier. This year, the single-flowered Yoshino cherries and double-flowered Kwanzan cherries may peak at their earliest yet. The Yoshinos may come to peak bloom even before the current record of 2000, when they peaked on March 17, the Washington Post’s Jason Samenow writes:

The May-like warmth forecast over the next week promises to give the cherry blossoms a big shot of adrenaline, bringing them to peak bloom considerably earlier than normal (which is around April 1). With the big temperature spike ahead, the peak bloom date could come close to the earliest on record of March 17, 2000.

This early bloom is no aberration — it’s part of a long-term trend of earlier blooming. The “normal” is moving with the warming of the earth. The National Park Service’s Robert DeFeo has records of the peak bloom dates of Washington DC’s heralded cherry trees since 1921. As this chart prepared by ThinkProgress Green shows, the average blooming time for the trees has moved about 10 days earlier in the last 90 years:

With carbon pollution growing at an exponential rate, it is reasonable to expect that March is the new April when it comes to our capital’s cherry trees.

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