Sakura in Japan bloomed earlier than usual for the first time in 1,200 years

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This year the sakura blossomed unexpectedly early in Japan. Scientists say there is nothing to rejoice about, as it is a symptom of a massive climate crisis threatening ecosystems around the world.

Yasuyuki Aono, a biologist at Osaka Prefecture University, has studied the dates of sakura blossoms in Kyoto up to 812 AD and found that in late March the sakura blossomed for the first time in 1200 years. According to Aono, only a few times in the history of mankind have the citizens of Kyoto been pleased with their flowers so early.

The early blossoming of this beautiful tree surprised not only the Japanese: Cherry trees in Washington, D.C., also did not bloom at the usual time. According to the National Park Service, Washington’s cherry blossom peak shifted nearly a week from April 5 to March 31.

The reasons for the early blooms are urbanization and climate change, said Amos Tai, associate professor of earth sciences at the Chinese University of Hong Kong.

According to Tai, plants sense the temperature, and if it stays warm for a few days, they start to bloom. And since insects don’t have time to react to the rapid change in temperature and don’t have time to prepare for flowering, they can be left without food and plants can be left without pollination.

It’s not just the cherry blossoms that are blooming earlier now. The same thing is happening to many crops and economically valuable plants, hurting many farms.

Various ag crops in different, including vulnerable, regions of the world are suffering from droughts, crop failures and locust invasions. In some regions, farmers are being forced to grow crops they are not used to in order to at least increase their food supply during the dry months.