Night-Time Pollution Shortens Winter, Brings Spring Early

Night-time light is speeding up the blossoming of plants.

7. 1. 16 by Charmaine Caparas
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Image by Shutterstock

Spring Came Early

New research finds that night-time light causes plants to bloom earlier than expected. Scientists say that buds were bursting by up to 7.5 days earlier in brighter areas and the effect was larger in later budding trees. 

This could be bad for other organisms whose life cycles work in synchronicity with the trees. The the winter month, which feeds on newly emerged oak leaves, could be affected by the early budding. This may in turn have some effect on birds who rely on the moth for food and then, again, other species even higher on the food chain.

Photo credit: Cestomano/Flickr

Time to Switch Off the Light?

The study is useful for local councils to determine the impact of different artificial light quality and the specific wavelengths of light generated by different lighting types. “Our finding that the timing of bud burst of woodland tree species may be affected by light pollution suggests that smaller plants growing below the height of street lights are even more likely to be affected,” said Professor Richard Ffrench-Constant of the department of Biosciences at the University’s Penryn campus. “Such results highlight the need to carry out experimental investigation into the impact of artificial night-time lighting on phenology and species interactions.”

Thanks to this study, the local council and academia can collaborate on solutions to address the effect of artificial lighting on plants and animals to sustainably manage light levels in the urban environment.

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