Conclusive proof that Spring is arriving earlier across Europe than it did 30 years ago is published today in the journal Global Change Biology.
Scientists from 17 countries have collaborated in the world's largest phenology study (the recording of changes in natural annual events such as the flowering of plants) and now have real evidence that climate change is affecting the seasons.
Led by Dr Annette Menzel from the Technical University Munich in Germany & Dr Tim Sparks of the Centre for Ecology & Hydrology in the UK, the research team has discovered that Spring arrives an average of 6-8 days earlier that it did in the past. And in countries where rapid increases in temperature have occurred, that figure is almost doubled.
Dr Sparks commented "Not only do we clearly demonstrate change in the timing of seasons, but that change is much stronger in countries that have experienced more warming." He added "Many plant species grow throughout Europe, so, for example, a direct comparison of the flowering date of wild cherry which is two weeks earlier in the UK with that in Austria which is only 3 days earlier is possible with this huge dataset."