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Climate Change Could Bring Early Springs to US

FILE - Daffodils bloom in view of the Space Needle in Seattle, Washington state, as sunshine and high temperatures arrive early, March 4, 2015.

Over the next century, spring will arrive earlier and earlier in the United States, researchers say. The cause: rising global temperatures.

University of Wisconsin-Madison researchers, in the study published in the journal Environmental Research Letters, say the spring growing season will come about three weeks earlier than usual over the next 100 years.

This could have a dramatic impact on crops and the animals that depend on them, the researchers said.

"Our projections show that winter will be shorter - which sound great for those of us in Wisconsin" said Andrew Allstadt, one of the study's authors, in a statement.

"But long distance migratory birds, for example, time their migration based on day length in their winter range. They may arrive in their breeding ground to find that the plant resources that they require are already gone."

The early arrival of spring will vary around the U.S., researchers said, noting that the shift will be more pronounced in the Pacific Northwest and mountainous West, with less of an impact in the southern part of the country.

So-called “false springs,” when freezing temperatures return after the growing season has begun, also will decrease in most locations, according to the research.

One area, the western Great Plains, could see an increase in false springs.

"This is important as false springs can damage plant production cycles in natural and agricultural systems" Allstadt said. "In some cases, an entire crop can be lost."