BOULDER, Colo., April 19 (UPI) — Scientists say data from a U.S. initiative called “Project BudBurst” suggest some plants are blooming unusually early, perhaps because of climate change.
The initiative, organized by the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research, employs students, gardeners, retirees and other volunteers who are recording the timing of flowers and foliage, amassing thousands of observations from across the nation to give researchers a detailed picture of the changing climate.
The project, started as a pilot program in 2007, now focuses on 10 species of flowers and trees, such as the common lilac and red maple. Scientists said those widely distributed plants can provide important early signs of the impact of rising temperatures on the environment.
“Project BudBurst empowers people living anywhere in the country to make a contribution that will lead to better understanding of our environment,” said Project Director Sandra Henderson of UCAR’s Office of Education and Outreach. “We will need volunteers to make observations for a number of years before we can fill in an accurate picture about the impact of climate change on our landscape.”
The project also involves scientists from the Chicago Botanic Garden, the USA National Phenology Network and the National Ecological Observatory Network.
Overall, participants across the country have made more than 10,000 observations since 2007, establishing a baseline for the timing of key plant events.
More information is available at www.budburst.org.
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