Cherry blossoms in the Japanese city of Kyoto have caused concern after they bloomed on Friday - the earliest date since records began – prompting fresh fears over climate change.
The information dates back to 812 AD, and this year’s date surpassed the previous record of 27 March 1409.
The flower often signifies the beginning of spring and is considered the unofficial national flower of Japan.
Speaking to The Washington Post, Columbia University researcher Benjamin Cook said that warmer springs “typically” lead to the earlier flowering of cherry blossoms.
“The Kyoto Cherry Blossom record is incredibly valuable for climate change research because of its length and the strong sensitivity of flowering to springtime temperatures.”
Michael Mann, a climate scientist at Pennsylvania State University, added: “Evidence, like the timing of cherry blossoms, is one of the historical ‘proxy’ measurements that scientists look at to reconstruct past climate.
“In this case, that ‘proxy’ is telling us something that quantitative, rigorous long-term climate reconstructions have already told us — that the human-caused warming of the planet we’re witnessing today is unprecedented going back millennia.”
A graph plotting the annual peak bloom day for cherry blossoms in Kyoto shows a steady progression from 812 AD onwards, before making a sudden incline not long after 1800.
The data was later shared to Twitter by the Capital Weather Gang account, who said “this is climate change”:
Record of cherry blossom bloom dates in Kyoto, Japan date to 812 AD...more than 1,200 years ago. This year's peak b… https://t.co/4rGBuPsIuV
— Capital Weather Gang (@Capital Weather Gang)
Responding to the tweet, one user said: “Never thought I’d be frightened by cherry blossoms, but there you go.”