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Researchers use records kept by Henry David Thoreau and Aldo Leopold to track global warming impacts

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Wildflowers are blooming much earlier than just a few decades ago due to global warming. Bob Berwyn photo.

Some wildflowers blooming weeks earlier than just a few decades ago

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — Henry David Thoreau and Aldo Leopold would probably appreciate that their meticulous observations of nature are helping today’s scientists unravel some of the mysteries of global warming.

The two naturalists kept detailed phenological records, noting when certain flowers bloomed in the spring, and today’s researchers now now that some native plants in the eastern United States are flowering as much as a month earlier in response to a warming climate.

“These historical records provide a snapshot in time and a baseline of sorts against which we can compare more recent records from the period in which climate change has accelerated,” explains Stan Temple, a co-author of the study and an emeritus UW-Madison professor of wildlife ecology. Temple is also a senior fellow at the Aldo Leopold Foundation in Baraboo, Wis., a stone’s throw from the iconic shack where Leopold made many of his observations. Continue reading

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