Earlier spring in Seoul, Korea



In the present study, long-term changes in the first bloom date of shrub and tree species in Seoul (126.56°E, 37.34°N), Korea were examined using historical observational data for the period 1922–2004 (83 years). The study focused on two shrub species, golden-bell (Forsythia koreana) and azalea (Rhododendron mucronulatum), and three tree species, cherry (Prunus yedoensis), peach (Prunus persica), and American locust (Robinia pseudoacacia). The annual-mean temperature has increased by about 2 °C in Seoul over the 83 years analyzed. The temperature increase is significant during the winter and early spring and becomes less significant during late spring. As a result of this regional warming, all five species showed an advance in the first bloom date over this time period. The advanced date is particularly apparent in early-spring flowering species like golden-bell (−2.4 days 10-year−1), azalea (−2.4 days 10-year−1), cherry (−1.4 days 10-year−1), and peach (−1.4 days 10-year−1) as compared to late-spring flowering species like American locust (−0.5 days 10-year−1).

The present results have demonstrated that the major factor for the determination of flower blooming is heat accumulation, i.e. a certain threshold of growing degree-days (GDD) index. In particular, early spring flowers were sensitive to the accumulation of warm temperature than late-spring flowers. Copyright © 2006 Royal Meteorological Society