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The Impacts Of Climate Change Can Be Seen In Plants Budding Around You

Lilacs are one of the plants Mark Schwartz and other phenologists around the United States study to track the impacts of climate change.

Spring is in full swing, so many plants and trees are beginning to bloom. Research shows that blooming trends are being impacted by climate change.

Mark Schwartz, a UW-Milwaukee distinguished professor of geography, is one of the researchers digging into those trends.

“My research has been focusing on the beginning and to some degree now the end of the growing season. It has really come from a very long-term realization that there was this interaction between the atmosphere and biological activity, particularly plants,” Schwartz says.

The foundation of Schwartz’s work is phenology . Think of it like nature’s calendar — the annual cycle of animals and plants. Phenology dates back nearly three centuries, but Schwartz has the advantage of more sophisticated tools, like satellite data. He says those tools are pointing to real change.

“We look at the satellite data and we see the changes there, we look at the temperature data and we see the changes there, and then we can tie this all to visible changes in plants,” Schwartz says.Spring is now arriving five to six days […]

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