• Spain's news in English
 
app_header_v3
Warm winter brings early almond blossom and climate change alarm
An almond tree in bloom in Mallorca. Photo: Jaime Reina/AFP.

Warm winter brings early almond blossom and climate change alarm

Emma Anderson · 13 Jan 2016, 11:56

Published: 13 Jan 2016 11:56 GMT+01:00
Updated: 13 Jan 2016 11:56 GMT+01:00

Temperatures in Spain this winter have been warmer than average this winter, averaging 10C in December - 2C higher than the norm between 1981 and 2010, according to a recent report by Spain's meteorological agency Aemet.

This made it the second-warmest December since 1961, and the warmest since 1989.

Though perhaps a relief from the chill for some, it also means a bit of a biological befuddlement for the country's greenery, causing in particular the almond trees to reveal their lovely pale petals as many as 20 days too early, according to experts.

The trees are usually in bloom at the end of January and mid-February, the blossoms lasting just a few days.

"21C. Almond trees in bloom. January 8th." 

"Blooming of the almond trees one month earlier than normal and with the leaves of the last season #arborealstress."

According to Professor José Egea of Spain's Superior Council for Scientific Research (CSIC), almond trees are more frequently blooming too soon due to higher temperatures associated with climate change, he told The Local.

The weather could also impact plants that flower in the spring between February and April, such as nectarines, of which Egea said many already seem about to bloom.

Flowering trees need a certain period of cold weather before the blooming process is activated. This period of time varies by each variety of tree, but because the almond trees require a shorter period of cold, their blooming processes have now been accelerated as temperatures now start to warm. 

"The kind of trees that have low needs [for cold weather] are the ones that have surprised us with their rapid flowering," Egea told The Local.

"This entails a significant risk that the winter 'wakes them up' and that if low temperatures appear, this will jeopardize the flowers, being able to destroy them if it gets down to 0C."

The flowering of the almond trees has been advanced by between 15 to 20 days ahead of what is normal, and depending on the area, if it is warmer or colder, this can be a problem, Egea told Europa Press, adding that in some parts of the country blossoms could be seen during Christmas.

There is a risk of damage to the trees from freezing if there is a sudden cold snap since they will already have adjusted for warmer weather.

Story continues below…

Flowers that require longer periods of cold weather to bloom may not emerge until later in the year than normal, Egea added.

"The risk to trees is very slight with this type of climate change that is happening," he told The Local, though he added that "climate change seems to be playing a role at the moment in this regard."
 
"In order to have more flowers during the springtime, it is essential to have many more trees or shrubbery that produce them and it would not be bad to fight individually and collectively against climate change."

Note: This story has been updated to add information from Professor José Egea to The Local.

For more news from Spain, join us on Facebook and Twitter.

Emma Anderson (emma.anderson@thelocal.com)

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Socialists lose support but still refuse to back Rajoy govt
"The 'no' to Mr Rajoy... has never been more justified," said Pedro Sanchez. Photo: AFP

Spain's Socialist leader is standing by his refusal to let conservative acting Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy form a new government.

The Local list
Ten facts you probably didn't know about Spanish wine
Spain is the biggest exporter of wine in the world. Photo: LexnGer/Flickr

As the wine harvest gets well underway across Spain, The Local celebrates the nation's favourite tipple with some little known facts.

Two jihadists held in Spain for plotting terrorist attacks
The men were inspired by Isis to plan the attacks. Photo: AFP

Spanish police have arrested two men accused of plotting to carry out an Isis-inspired attack in Europe.

Voter posts christening gift instead of ballot paper
He mistakenly handed in an envelope containing a christening gift. Photo: AFP

A voter from Galicia mistakenly posted a €200 christening gift in the ballot box instead of his voting slip.

Ex-IMF boss Rato goes on trial over bankers' luxury sprees
Rodrigo Rato pictured in April 2015. Photo: AFP

Former IMF chief and 64 other former bank executives go on trial for racking up huge expenses while in charge of a bailed out bank.

Spain's regional elections boost acting PM's party
Alberto Nuñez Feijoo leader of the PP in Galicia. Photo: AFP

Regional elections in Spain have strengthened acting Prime Minister's Mariano Rajoy's conservatives and weakened the Socialists.

'Sulking Ronaldo has to live with being subbed': Zidane
Ronaldo celebrates a goal before he was substituted in the game against Las Palmas. Photo: Desiree Martin/AFP

Real Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane insisted Cristiano Ronaldo has to learn to live with being substituted after the Portuguese striker sulked off the field.

Basques and Galicians vote to unblock Spain's deadlock
Partido Popular candidate Alberto Nunez Feijoo voted in the election on Sunday. Photo: Miguel Riopa/AFP

Spain's Basque country and Galicia went to the polls Sunday in regional elections that may help unblock the long-lasting national political paralysis.

Feature
 Spanish cinema breaks taboo and talks Eta
A still from Justin Webster's documentary The End of ETA. Photo: The End of ETA

Documentaries on terror group Eta have been screened at San Sebastian film festival and met with applause, as the taboo fades.

 Spain's Socialists in crisis as political blockage takes toll
Pedro Sanchez has repeatedly said he won't support Rajoy. Photo: AFP

Spain's nine-month political paralysis is taking its toll on parties, and none more so than the Socialists who are facing a crisis, with talk of an imminent "coup" against leader Pedro Sanchez.

National
Seven reasons why autumn is the very best season in Spain
International
Spanish study finds four types of personality. Which are you?
National
New search underway for civil war grave of poet Lorca
National
Bison found decapitated on Valencia nature reserve
International
Forgotten Voices: What Brits in Spain think about Brexit
Travel
One dead and 14 injured in blast at Spanish resort
International
Game of Thrones want extras 'with muscles' to film in Spain
Sponsored Article
Why Jordan is the ‘Different’ East
Thousands march in Madrid to push for bullfighting ban
Technology
Spanish team invents hands-free 'penis bidet'
National
In pics: Devastation caused by Costa Blanca wildfires
Society
Pregnant woman in niqab attacked by two men in Spain
National
Spanish café offers cut-price coffee to those with manners
Travel
What's on in Spain: September 2016
Travel
'We drank from animal troughs to survive'
National
Forest fires threaten Costa Blanca resort of Jávea
National
Loyal dog mounts vigil at hospital doors for sick owner
Politics
Five reasons why Spain's Socialists won't back Rajoy
National
It's a girl! Rare giant panda cub born in Madrid zoo
Culture
La Tomatina: Everything you need to know about epic fiesta
National
Shocking video shows torture of young calf during fiesta
Police launch appeal for Costa Blanca hit and run driver
Politics
What political deadlock? Spain economy forges ahead
Features
Eight reasons to spend your gap year exploring Spain
3,188
jobs available