Early peaking of Japan's cherry blossoms laid to warmer March, climate change

JIJI, Kyodo

The early peaking of the cherry blossoms in many parts of the country this spring was likely caused by higher temperatures in March and global warming, the Metrological Agency said.

A Somei-Yoshino cherry tree is considered to be in full bloom when about 80 percent or more of its buds are open.

This year, a Somei-Yoshino tree monitored in Kochi reached full bloom on March 19, the earliest in Japan. The last to bloom was one in Sapporo on April 29.

The agency said Saturday that Hokkaido’s Ezo-Yamazakura variety of cherry tree started blooming in Wakkanai and Kushiro.

In 14 cities including Kochi, the dates logged for full bloom were the earliest ever or tied the record, with blooming occurring seven to 11 days earlier than average, the agency said. Temperatures were higher than usual in many areas in March due to warm air currents from the south. “The higher temperatures hastened the timing of the full bloom,” an agency official said.

In addition, long-term temperature increases caused by global warming may have contributed to the early blooming as well. Cherry trees, including Taiwanese varieties, have been flowering one day earlier every decade since 1953, the agency said.