GREENBELT, Md. (WJZ) — The calendar may say this is the first day of spring, but science is finding otherwise.
Alex DeMetrick reports climate change is bringing warmer weather and an earlier start to the season.
Daffodils are blooming in parts of Maryland pretty much on time, but spring is coming earlier.
Dr. Jim Tucker is a climate researcher. Working with satellites and other data at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, he and others have been measuring the retreat of snow and ice since 1982. As it gets warmer, spring gets longer.
“An increase over 30 years of 12 and a half days,” said Tucker.
Gases like methane are the reason. Acting like a blanket, they let heat in but also trap it; it’s the greenhouse effect.
In three decades, it’s moved warmer weather north, bringing a growing season usually seen 400 miles to the south–and early spring.
“These changes are most pronounced when you’re very far north. As you come further south, they are moderated, so it would only be a few days here,” he said.
And while blizzards like the ones three years ago may seem contradictory, storms grow stronger because a warmer atmosphere holds more water.
Using the past 30 years of data, researchers are programming computers for future climate changes.
“Their extrapolations are that conditions will continue to get warmer because of the greenhouse gases in the atmosphere,” said Tucker.
Meaning still earlier springs, but not necessarily a more pleasant planet.
A warmer north is already seeing changes in animal migration and a slow advance of plants from the south.