NPR

Spring Is Springing Sooner, Throwing Nature's Rhythms Out Of Whack

A warming climate is knocking nature's rhythms out of sync. High in the Rocky Mountains, scientists have been tracking the impact for decades.
A yellow-bellied marmot keeps an eye out while it gets a bite to eat. Related to groundhogs, yellow-bellied marmots are getting fatter and bigger because of the longer growing season brought on by climate change. Source: Nathan Rott

There's a cycle that starts when the snow melts and the earth thaws high in Colorado's Rocky Mountains. It's a seasonal cycle based on timing and temperature, two variables that climate change is pushing increasingly out of sync.

To the outsider, it can be hard to see: Plants still grow, flowers bud, bears awake, and marmots breed. Broad-tailed hummingbirds still trill around a landscape that evokes the opening scene of The Sound of Music, with flowery meadows and granite peaks.

But those who know this ecosystem will tell you something is a little off. The flowers are blooming earlier. The marmots are mating in early May. Spring is springing sooner , changing natural cycles

You're reading a preview, sign up to read more.

More from NPR

NPR5 min read
Some 'Podunk' Town In The Middle Of Nowhere
"Podunk" is supposed to be bleak and isolated. But there are a few things that people who use the term might not know. For one, it really exists. For another, its history predates the United States.
NPR3 min readScience
Global Youth Climate Strike Expected To Draw Large Crowds
Strike organizers are calling on their fellow young people to skip school Friday and rally to demand greater action against climate change.
NPR3 min readSociety
PHOTOS: Drag Queens In South Africa Embrace Queerness And Tradition
Even though they face discrimination, they proudly embrace their heritage in the way they dress.