Japan’s famous cherry blossoms reached their peak earlier than ever before this year, with experts suggesting the record-setting date is the result of climate change.
Peak bloom was reached on March 26 in the ancient capital of Kyoto, the earliest date since the country’s meteorological agency started collecting official data in 1953 and 10 days ahead of the 30-year average.
Researchers at Osaka University, who have compiled historical data on the issue using the diaries of emperors, aristocrats, governors and monks, said it was the earliest peak bloom in more than 1,200 years.
Yasuyuki Aono, an environmental scientist who leads the Osaka University team, said unusual weather fluctuations had caused the cherry trees to bloom more quickly this year.
“In Japan, the winter in January this year was very cold, and the springtime after the latter half of February was very warm,” Aono said. “I think it accelerated the development of the cherry blossoms.”
Aono’s team had previously identified March 27, 1409 as the earliest date of the peak bloom in Kyoto — one day later than this year.
Shunji Anbe, an official at the observations division at the Japan Meteorological Agency, told the Associated Press that climate change was likely responsible for the early blooming.
“We can say it’s most likely because of the impact of global warming,” he said.