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The Beauty of Autumn

September 26, 2015

The Beauty of Autumn

 

 

There’s no doubt that fall is a beautiful and exciting season. Perhaps the most striking feature of autumn is the changing of the leaves from shades of green to oranges, yellows, reds and purples. But why does this happen?

 

The changing of leaves is influenced by many different environmental factors such as decreasing sunlight, decreasing food supply and colder temperatures. Three main pigments are present in the color change--- chlorophyll, which is important in the photosynthesis process, carotenoid, which produces yellow, orange and brown colors and anthocyanin, which produces red and purple pigments. Chlorophyll is especially active when there is an abundance of sunlight but production slows down once there is decreased daylight. This causes chlorophyll to become inactive and allows carotenoid and anthocyanin in the leaf to show through. The exact pigments and timing of the color change vary by species.

 

Weather related factors, such as temperature and moisture, are major influences on when the leaves change in the fall season. Observations have shown that the most stunning displays occur when there are sunny warm days and cooler nights. This is because the sun prompts sugar to be produced in the leaf during the daytime but then cooler temperatures at night close the veins in the leaf and the sugar cannot move out. The carotenoid and anthocyanin are able to fully show through.

 

Here’s to hoping this fall will bring some more impressive displays of bright reds, yellows, oranges, bronzes and purples for us to enjoy!

 

http://www.na.fs.fed.us/fhp/pubs/leaves/leaves.shtm

 

http://www.esf.edu/pubprog/brochure/leaves/leaves.htm

 

http://harvardforest.fas.harvard.edu/leaves/process



Any questions regarding leave change please contact the Forecasting Team! 

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