How early are leaves changing color?
Red maple spotted by wildcg
This picture of a red maple tree was taken on September 17, 2013, a few days before fall officially began on September 22 (the autumnal equinox). You can see that the maple leaves were already changing to a bright red color – but what drives the timing of leaf change? Weather and climate conditions impact when leaves emerge, how much foliage grows, and when leaves begin to fall. The timing of these events as they relate to climate is called phenology. For example, a dry summer and early fall can speed up color change and leaves may fall earlier than usual. A wet early fall can result in less vivid leaf colors and leaves may fall early because of rain and wind storms. Other environmental factors, like damage from insects or wildfire, can also impact tree foliage.
The red maple range runs across the eastern United States, from Louisiana and Minnesota on the western-most edge to Florida and Maine on the eastern edge. Do you have red maples in your neighborhood that have started changing color? What other trees are changing where you live? Take photos and upload them to the Eyes on Central PA Mission on Project Noah!