But geography does not automatically describe vibrant colors – weather often plays the most important role. Where was the weather favorable to pick a good foliage this year?
The best foliage conditions depend on the best combination of temperature (not too hot or too cold) and humidity (not too humid or too dry). The problem is some areas Owns They were affected by these harsh conditions, especially in the West and New England.
More than 75% of people in western countries are in drought. More than 80% of people in Massachusetts, Maine, Rhode Island and New Hampshire are affected by severe drought.
But some of the same New England areas that experience drought conditions show more of the fall colors.
“We are seeing exceptionally vibrant foliage fall in Vermont this year,” said Dr. William Keaton, professor of forestry and forest ecology at the University of Vermont. “It’s a combination of factors including good tree growth last year, mild drought, hot days and cold nights last month.”
When the drought leads to more vibrant colors, time may be premature.
“This year’s colors come two weeks earlier than usual, and they fade quickly and aggressively,” Keaton said. “It often causes stress to drought trees – physiological stress. In this sense, drought can enhance certain colors, stress is not a good thing, and for things to come, it can be a precursor to climate change. ”
Not only does it start early, but the duration of leaf color is also likely to be affected.
“As for leaf fall, drought leaves may initially change color, but they may die and fall off quickly,” said Caitlin Weber, data analyst at the Climate Center. “Prolonged and severe drought can cause physical damage to trees such as loss of roots and slow growth, and it is difficult for trees to protect themselves from pests and diseases.”
This is why dehydration is so important.
For example, Vermont has the most moderate drought (Level 4 on stage 4), as opposed to New Hampshire, Massachusetts and Maine, which suffer from severe drought (Level 2 on level 4). All parts of Rhode Island are affected by severe drought (Level 3 of 4).
“Mild and moderate drought can actually exacerbate leaf fall to some extent, unless it leads to more‘ brown ’or early leaf fall,” Keaton said. “Again, drought in one year may cause less strong leaf production next year.”
So this is not always an immediate effect. Often, the effects of dehydration are delayed. Currently, 76% of Vermont is experiencing mild or severe drought conditions. But at the same time last year, the state was in a 0% drought.
“The good growth of the trees last year allowed the trees to store energy and nutrient reserves during the winter, resulting in strong leaf growth in the spring and summer,” Keaton said. “But it works the other way around … one bad drought in one year will lead to weak foliage next year.”
Extreme heat and climate change
Perfect conditions for vibrant foliage include hot days and cold nights. It promotes the production of a chemical called anthocyanins, which adds red and purple to some species, such as maple.
“The difference in temperature between night and day accelerates the loss of chlorophyll from the leaves, which leaves secondary photosynthetic pigments (carotenoids) that give yellow and orange colors,” Keaton said.
However, as with drought, extreme heat can stress trees to the point of causing premature browning or leaf loss. And moderate heat or prolonged heat – when the fall is like a summer stretch – can delay the fall of colors because the trees do not receive a signal that the fall has come.
“Plants are more likely to lose a signal completely and lose leaves faster,” Weber said.
According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the fourth-highest temperature in the United States was recorded between June and August this year.
Western states such as Colorado and New Mexico often see an increase in tourism as travelers search for live leaves of aspen and oak trees. Both states, along with Nevada and Utah, recorded the hottest temperatures in August this year. New Mexico recorded its second dry summer (June to August).
“The causes of leaf fall are complex, in fact they are not fully understood,” Keaton said. “Drought is one of the many factors. Other factors include the duration of light and the difference between day and night temperatures in the fall. All of this shows just how amazing our forest ecosystems are! ”
Wildfires add another obstacle / embarrassment
Wildfires will complicate leaf catching in Colorado and California this year. Many states are still dealing with poor air quality and smoky skies. This fog will hinder your ability to see vibrant colors.
“Currently, all national forests in the Pacific Southwest are properly closed to the public. According to the USDA Forest Service website, there are some exceptions to these requirements.
The Inno National Forest in California is closed until October 8th. However, conditions are still fluid when the bush fire changes or is contained, so check each park’s website to see if they have reopened.
How would this be in your area? You can use this green tracker to see how every part of the country works.