Academic journal article The Science Teacher

Desert Flowers

Academic journal article The Science Teacher

Desert Flowers

Article excerpt

Global warming is giving a boost to Sonoran Desert plants that have an edge during cold weather, according to new research. Although the overall numbers of winter annuals have declined since 1982, species that germinate and grow better at low temperatures are becoming more common.

"It's an unexpected result--that global warming has led to an increase in cold-adapted species," says lead author Sarah Kimball, a research associate at the University of Arizona (UA) in Tucson. "Because the winter rains are arriving later, they are occurring under colder temperatures."

Climate change is shifting the winter storm track, so the Sonoran Desert's winter rains now generally begin in late November or early December, rather than during the balmy days of late October. Therefore, seeds that require winter rains must sprout during the cooler days of December.

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"Southern Arizona has been getting hotter and drier for the last 25 or 30 years, and as a result, the desert annuals we've been studying at Tumamoc Hill have been changing," says coauthor D. …

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