A blooming shame – Japanese cherry trees indicator of global climate change


TORONTO, Tuesday, May 1, 2018 – The much anticipated blooming of Toronto’s Sakura or Japanese cherry trees is expected to happen early- to mid-May, but these are more than just pretty flowers. Their blossoming times have been recorded by emperors, aristocrats and monks since the year 854, allowing York University researchers to better understand shifts in global climates.

Japanese cherry trees in bloom at York University

York University Professor Sapna Sharma of the Faculty of Science has studied cherry blossom flowering times from the writings of monks in Japan to understand changes in climate. Her research has shown changes in blooming times coincide with increased rates of warming around the start of the Industrial Revolution.

“In recent years, cherry blossom trees have flowered earlier than at any point in the past 1,200 years consistent with climate warming in Kyoto, Japan,” said Sharma.

Tree rings, corals and ice core data has also shown surface air temperatures globally are warmer than in the past 1,300 to 1,700 years.

Sharma is available to discuss how these delicate blooms can be such a harbinger of temperature changes to come.

Where to see the blooms:

At York University there more than a 100 trees, many of which are south of Calumet College, but also east of the Tait McKenzie Centre. Toronto’s High Park also has quite a few. Check the Sakura Cherry Blossoms website for more details on when they’re expected to bloom.






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Media Contacts:

Sandra McLean, York University Media Relations, 416-736-2100 ext. 22097, sandramc@yorku.ca