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Heat trapped in urban areas tricks trees into thinking spring has arrived earlier

Lin Meng, GEAT PhD candidate, and Dr. Yuyu Zhou, Associate Professor, recently published a study on the urban heat-island effect and phenology in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

In their study, satellite images of 85 large U.S. cities were examined to detect changes in greenness of plants and the timing of spring growth. The data show the start of the growing season arrived on average six days earlier in the studied cities than surrounding rural areas due to the heat island effect, a phenomenon in which cities trap heat locally. These results are important as scientists attempt to predict how plants will respond to changing environmental conditions, including climate change and urbanization.

Find out more at the ISU News Service website.