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Warming Experiments Greatly Underestimate how Plants respond to Climate Change

May 3, 2012; 12:56 PM ET

A group of researchers compared results from controlled environmental warming experiments on plants with massive new archive of historical observations and found that the warming experiments are dramatically underestimating how plants respond to climate change.

Image courtesy of the National Park Service.

The historical records showed that leafing and flowering will advance, on average, five to six days per degree Celsius -- a finding that was consistent across species and datasets. These data show that estimates based on data from warming experiments are underpredicting advances in flowering by eight and a half times and advances in leafing by four times, according to the NASA story.

"The long-term records show that phenology is changing much faster than estimated based on the results of the warming experiments. This suggests we need to reassess how we design and use results from these experiments," says lead researcher Elizabeth Wolkovich. (via NASA)

The study of phenology, the timing of annual plant events such as the first flowering and leafing out of spring, provides one of the most consistent and visible responses to climate change, according to the report.


The results of this study were published online in the journal Nature on May 2

The views expressed are those of the author and not necessarily those of AccuWeather, Inc. or


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Climate Change
In the Climate Change Blog, you will find links to the latest research, commentary by experts with various points of view on all aspects of global climate change.