Shoemaker Green


Climate Change’s Weather Swings Bring Trials for Plants, Penn Experts Say

April 18, 2017
frozen tree bud

Katherine Unger Baillie | | 215-898-9194

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

It was a lovely day on the University of Pennsylvania campus: sunny and 70 degrees. Students sunbathed and tossed Frisbees on College Green, near cherry trees on the verge of blooming. The only incongruity? It was still winter.

It’s been hard to avoid remarking on the weather, with repeated swings from 70 degrees one day to snow and below-freezing temperatures the next. Though climate scientists have thus far resisted attributing any one weather event to climate change, the earlier arrival of spring-like temperatures and increasing occurrence of extreme rain and snow fit the pattern.

Plant experts at Penn have been among those pondering what the unpredictable weather means for native, ornamental and food plants. Their research and experiences shed light on why, for example, cheery daffodills appeared in February, only to be pummeled under ice and snow in March, and what these phenomena might mean for plant life moving forward.

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