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How fast does spring travel? About 2mph according to new research

Woodland Trust | Woodland Trust

2 min read Partner content

The passage of spring across the UK appears to be speeding up according to analysis of over 20,000 public records in a collaboration between the Woodland Trust, British Science Association and BBC Springwatch.

Records of seven spring events submitted to the Trust’s Nature’s Calendar survey over the last four months have been analysed by Professor Tim Sparks from Coventry University to track the rate of progress up the country.

Thursday’s Springwatch will reveal the average speed of the passage of spring this year is 1.9mph, taking nearly three weeks to cover the length of the country from south to north. An average of 1.2mph was recorded using data between 1891 and 1947 and 1.8mph using data recorded between 1998 and 2014.
Speed of travel from south to north in 2015 (appearance of event):

• Ladybird – 6.5mph
• Hawthorn leafing – 6.3mph
• Swallows arriving – 2.4mph
• Hawthorn flowering – 1.9mph
• Orange tip butterfly – 1.4mph
• Oak first leafing – 1.3mph
• Frogspawn – 1mph

The research also found that the passage of spring is not directly south to north but is aligned southwest to northeast, as are early spring temperatures.
Professor Sparks said: “Some of these events appear to be more reliable than others in determining the speed of the progress of spring. Comparison with previous years does suggest that spring may be moving faster now than it did in the past.”

Dr Kate Lewthwaite, Woodland Trust Citizen Science Manager, added: “The timing of the seasons is hugely important for wildlife and any long term changes could have implications on the success or failure of a particular species.”

“Without the volume of records supplied by members of the public this analysis wouldn’t be possible, so we’re hugely grateful for every single piece of information.”

Nature’s Calendar is the longest written biological record of its kind, with information dating back to 1736 and is a powerful tool in assessing the impact of climate change. For more information visit www.naturescalendar.org.uk

Read the most recent article written by Woodland Trust - Woodland Trust welcomes Budget Nature for Climate Fund investment