Spring is springing earlier in Europe, study finds

Across Europe, spring is arriving an average of six to eight days earlier than it did 30 years ago, according to new research published in the journal Global Change Biology. Scientists studied 125,000 sets of observations of 542 plant and 19 animal species in 21 European countries, and found that nearly 80 percent of all leafing, flowering, and fruiting is now happening earlier in the year. “Not only do we clearly demonstrate change in the timing of the seasons, but that change is much stronger in countries that have experienced more warming,” said Tim Sparks, one of the report’s authors. In Spain, which is heating up more quickly than any other nation in Europe, trees are leafing a full 14 days early. Animals are also adjusting to shifts in climate, but, said Sparks, “If you have species that are dependent on each other changing at different rates, that could just break down the food web.” Yikes.