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Top Story

Spring is springing earlier in polar regions than across the rest of Earth

Spring is arriving earlier, but how much earlier? The answer depends on where on Earth you find yourself, according to a new study. The study found that for every 10 degrees north from the equator you move, spring arrives about four days earlier than it did a decade ago. This northward increase in the rate of springtime advance is roughly three times greater than what previous studies have indicated. For example, at southern to mid latitudes such as Los Angeles, New Orleans and Dallas, the study suggests spring might be arriving a mere one day earlier than it did a decade ago. Farther north, in Seattle, Chicago and Washington, D.C., it might be arriving four days earlier. And if you live in the Arctic, it might be arriving as much as 16 days earlier. Springtime provides important biological cues for many plant and animal species, and it is unclear how an accelerated spring could play out for these species across the planet. The study notes that impacts to migratory birds, such as northern wheatears, are a potential concern. These birds are long-distance migrants, overwintering in sub-Saharan Africa and breeding in the Arctic. With earlier springs happening faster at higher, but not at lower, latitudes, the birds may find themselves "late for dinner" if the insects they flew north to feast upon have already emerged.

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