Impact of urban warming on earlier spring flowering in Korea



Using long-term (1954–2004) observations of four selected species in South Korea: goldenbell (Forsythia koreana), azalea (Rhododendron mucronulatum), cherry (Prunus yedoensis), and peach (Prunus persica), the impact of urban warming on spring flowering was investigated. Trends of early spring temperatures and first-flowering dates (FFDs) of the four plants were cross-compared among nine differently urbanized cities. It was clearly observed that urban warming has led to an advance in the timing of first-flowering of several days to weeks during recent decades, while the intrinsic physiology of plants to sense thermal energy has not been changed. The degree of advancement of the FFD was observed to be roughly proportional to degree of urbanization. Moreover, the sensitivity of the FFD to urban warming was estimated to be higher for the shrub species (−9.07 and −6.64 days °C−1 for goldenbell and azalea, respectively) than the tree species (−2.46 and −2.90 days °C−1 for peach and cherry, respectively). Our results suggest that the impact of urban warming should be considered as an influential factor which drives changes in the regional natural environment, especially in regions of rapid urbanization. Copyright © 2010 Royal Meteorological Society