02 Aug 2011 09:00
Woodland Trust data suggests record breaking spring for Mother Nature
Preliminary results from nearly 40,000 volunteer observations compiled by the Woodland Trust suggest that spring 2011 was the earliest so far this century. Some events recorded were earlier than in any year for which the charity has data - as far back as 1891.
The data, recorded by the general public on the charity's Nature's Calendar website highlighted some startling information for a number of traditional spring events. These include the earliest emergence of orange tip butterfly for over 100 years, the earliest leafing since at least 2000 for 11 out of 13 tree species and the earliest arrival of six species of spring migrant birds. The provisional average emergence date for orange tip in 2011 was April 13, three days earlier than the previous record of April 16 in 2007.
Professor Tim Sparks, nature advisor to the Woodland Trust said: "We had a cold winter but this was followed by a particularly warm and dry spring, which included the warmest April on record. This warmth is undoubtedly the main factor which led to many events occurring earlier than usual. It will be interesting to see what impact the early leafing and dry summer has on autumnal events, which is why we need the public to continue to send us their recordings in the coming months."
The spring months of March, April and May had a UK mean temperature of 9.1 degrees Celsius, which was 1.8 degrees above the 1971-2000 average. April was particularly warm, with mean temperatures across the UK being 3.7 degrees Celsius above average. For Central England, it was the warmest April since records began in 1659. It was also the sunniest April since records began in 1929.
The preliminary analysis compares all events with the baseline year of 2001, which is the year spring temperatures were closest to the 1961-1990 thirty year average.
The charity is appealing for the public to visit its VisitWoods website to find their nearest wood to look for the first signs of autumn arriving.
*See attached document for individual records
Notes to Editors:
Nature’s Calendar - formally known as the UKPN: UK Phenology Network: is the result of a partnership between the Woodland Trust and the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology and has more than 40,000 registered recorders observing the signs of the changing seasons across the UK. Data stretches back to the 17th century and is used by scientists to assess the impact of climate change on wildlife in the UK. For information visit www.naturescalendar.org.uk
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About Woodland Trust
The Woodland Trust is the UK’s leading woodland conservation charity championing native woods and trees. It has more than 500,000 members and supporters and its three key aims are: i) to enable the creation of more native woods and places rich in trees ii) to protect native woods, trees and their wildlife for the future iii) to inspire everyone to enjoy and value woods and trees. Established in 1972, the Woodland Trust now has over 1,200 sites in its care covering approximately 20,000 hectares (50,000 acres). Access to all Woodland Trust sites is free.