Climate Change Hits Washingtons Beloved Cherry Blossom Festival

Washington, (APP – UrduPoint / Pakistan Point News – 22nd Mar, 2024) It is one of the prettier fixtures of spring in Washington: thousands of cherry trees bloom amid the city’s stately monuments in a spectacle that draws more than a million visitors every year.

But because of climate change, those eager to enjoy the clouds of pale pink petals and their almond-like scent have to get here earlier than they used to.

Warmer weather means the peak of this gigantic bloom starts around mid-March, on average six days earlier than a century ago.

This year, after the United States had its warmest winter on record, the cherry blossom pinnacle came on March 17. Only once before, in 1990, did the peak happen earlier.

“It is a real-world example of how climate change is affecting the nation’s capital,” said Mike Litterst, head of communications for the National Mall and Memorial Parks.

Another result of this greater warmth is that cherry trees lining the Tidal Basin — a reservoir connected to the nearby Potomac River that is one of several spots where people can see the bloom — are sometimes under several inches of water at their base because the inlet has overflowed.

This is due in part to higher sea levels, which also affect the flow in the Potomac.

The park service plans later this year to carry out major construction work to build up and improve an old, ineffective seawall meant to hold back the water, which will cause a disruption to the next two cherry blossom festivals.

Some 300 trees around the Tidal Basin, including 158 cherry trees, will be chopped down, to the dismay of some Washingtonians.

This decision was not taken lightly, said Litterst, adding that 455 trees, including 270 cherry trees, will eventually be planted once the seawall work is completed.

“Leaving things as they are is not an option because the end result of that eventually is no cherry trees” in this area, he told AFP.

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