Sakura・桜

Japanese cherry blossoms (sakura・桜) are appreciated in Japan, especially during its peak time around March and April. The blooming of the blossoms signifies beginning of spring and a cheerful start of a new school year. (In Japan, school year beings around April.) Co-workers, friends, and family members are brought together under the pink showers to enjoy barbeque and picnic.

Ms. Stone (left) and her sister (right) when she was in elementary school, enjoying the cherry blossom festival in Iwakuni, Japan.

Customs and festivals regarding cherry blossoms have been valued for more than thousand years. Such festivities were documented in details, including the dates of when blossoms reached its peak. Scientists have been able to collect and graph the peak dates of the cherry blossoms as below.

As you can see, the peak dates of the cherry blossoms have been fluctuating over the past 1000 years. However, there is a clear trend at the end of 20th century and beginning of 21st century. As the global temperature has ben rising, the blooming dates of the cherry blossoms have been arriving earlier. Similar observations have been made in Washington, DC as well. It is safe to conclude that climate change has had a biological impact on cherry blossoms and its peak dates.

If the peak dates continue to arrive early,  the cherry blossoms will no longer appropriately signify the beginning of spring, or start of a new school year. There will no longer be celebration of 1st graders or graduate students' photos taken with the background of cherry blossoms. Climate change will forever change the customs and tradition of Japan.

Sources:

Primack, Richrd, and Hiroyoshi Higuchi. "Climate Change and Cherry Tree Blossom Festivals in Japan." Arnoldia 65.2: 14-22. Web. http://arnoldia.arboretum.harvard.edu/pdf/articles/1893.pdf.

Henson, Robert. The Rough Guide to Climate Change. 3rd ed. London: Rough Guides, 2011. Print.

"Community Connection: Cherry Blossom Bloom Dates in Washington, D.C." 1 May 2014. Web. 23 Nov. 2014. <http://epa.gov/climatechange/pdfs/print_cherry-blossoms-2014.pdf>.

Comment Stream

2 years ago
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cool