The Science Behind Fall Color
Around the Copper Country leaves on deciduous trees started turning scarlet, blaze orange, tawny brown and vibrant yellow in September. Last year leaves began their autumnal turn in October. The reason for the early color? Well, that’s complicated.
“Notice all the color already? The trees are stressed out from soaking too long,” says Tara Bal (SFRES). “The cold, wet summer has sped things up.”
Bal, whose research focus is on sugar maple health, notes that compared to the historic average (1980-2010), the area around Houghton County has received above average precipitation in 2017. In the past 180 days, the area received 125-150 percent above average rainfall. In the past 90 days, 150-175 percent above average. And incredibly, in the past 30 days, the area has received 200-300 percent above average rainfall.
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