Season creep

Season creep

__NOTOC__In phenology, season creep is a neologism that refers to observed changes in the timing of the seasons,cite book |author=Gabay, Jonathan |title=Gabay's Copywriters' Compendium|edition=Second Edition: The Definitive Professional Writers Guide|chapter = 23. So What's New? |publisher=Butterworth-Heinemann |location=Oxford |year= 2006|pages= p. 701|isbn=0-7506-8320-1 |quote=Season creep n. Earlier spring weather and other gradual seasonal shifts caused by global climate change.] cite web |url= |title=Macmillan English Dictionary Word Of The Week Archive - "Christmas creep" |accessdate=2007-12-26| date = 2006-09-18|format= |work=New Words|publisher=Macmillan Publishers|first=Kerry |last=Maxwell|quote= …season creep, earlier spring weather and seasonal shifts caused by global climate change] especially earlier indications of springcite web |url= |title= A review of 2007 in twelve words |accessdate=2007-12-23 |date=2007-12|format= |work=MED Magazine | publisher=Macmillan English Dictionaries|first=Kerry |last=Maxwell|quote=It’s a classic case of the newly-identified phenomenon of season creep, where Winters are warmer and Spring arrives earlier.] widely observed in temperate areas across the Northern Hemisphere. Phenological records analyzed by climate scientists have shown significant temporal trends in the observed time of seasonal events, [cite web |url= |title=Changing Climate, Changing Language |accessdate=2007-12-23 |date=2006-08 | first= Paul | last = McFedries |work=IEEE Spectrum|quote=Did spring seem to arrive a bit earlier than usual this year in your part of the world? That wouldn’t be surprising, because we seem to be undergoing season creep: earlier spring weather and other gradual seasonal shifts, particularly those caused by global climate change. ] cite web |url=,9171,1570839,00.html |title=The Year in Buzzwords 2006 |accessdate=2007-12-26 |date=2006-12-17 |author= Sayre, Carolyn|work=TIME|quote=SEASON CREEP n. Spring seemed to come early this year--and summer lasted a bit longer. What's to blame? Most scientists say global warming.] from the end of the 20th century and continuing into the 21st century. In Europe, season creep has been associated with the arrival of spring moving up by approximately one week in a recent 30 year period.cite web |url= |title=Suddenly spring |accessdate=2007-12-23 |format= |work=The Record (Bergen County, NJ)|author = Stutz, Bruce | date = 2006-04-21|quote = In fact, due to global warming, spring across the Northern Hemisphere arrives a week or more earlier than it did 30 years ago, a phenomenon starting to be known as "season creep." ] cite web |url= |title = Climate changes shift springtime : A Europe-wide study has provided "conclusive proof" that the seasons are changing, with spring arriving earlier each year, researchers say. |accessdate=2007-12-28 | date = 2006-08-25 |format= |work= Science/Nature | publisher = BBC NEWS | quote = Spring was beginning on average six to eight days earlier than it did 30 years ago, the researchers said.] Other studies have put the rate of season creep measured by plant phenology in the range of 2–3 days per decade advancement in spring, and 0.3–1.6 days per decade delay in autumn, over the past 30–80 years.cite journal
author = Sherry, R.A.
coauthors = Zhou, X.; Gu, S.; Arnone Iii, J.A.; Schimel, D.S.; Verburg, P.S.; Wallace, L.L.; Luo, Y.
year = 2007
title = Divergence of reproductive phenology under climate warming
journal = Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
volume = 104
issue = 1
pages = 198
url =
accessdate = 2007-12-29
quote = Phenology is a sensitive biosphere indicator of climate change. Long-term surface data and remote sensing measurements indicate that plant phenology has been advanced by 2–3 days in spring and delayed by 0.3–1.6 days in autumn per decade in the past 30–80 years, resulting in extension of the growing season.
doi = 10.1073/pnas.0605642104
pmid = 17182748

Observable changes in nature related to season creep include birds laying their eggs earlier and buds appearing on some trees in late winter. In addition to advanced budding, flowering trees have been blooming earlier, for example the culturally important cherry blossoms in Japan,cite journal
author = Miller-rushing, A.J.
coauthors = Katsuki, T.; Primack, R.B.; Ishii, Y.; Lee, S.D.; Higuchi, H.
year = 2007
title = Impact of global warming on a group of related species and their hybrids: cherry tree (Rosaceae) flowering at Mt. Takao, Japan
journal = American Journal of Botany
volume = 94
issue = 9
pages = 1470
url =
accessdate = 2007-12-29
quote = We examined a 25-yr record (1981–2005) of flowering times for 97 trees, representing 17 species and hybrids of cherry (Cerasus sp. or Prunus sp.) grown at Mt. Takao, in Tokyo, Japan. The cherry trees flowered earlier over time, by an average of 5.5 d over the 25-yr study.
doi = 10.3732/ajb.94.9.1470
] cite journal
author = Cleland, E.E.
coauthors = Chuine, I.; Menzel, A.; Mooney, H.A.; Schwartz, M.D.
year = 2007
title = Shifting plant phenology in response to global change
journal = Trends in Ecology & Evolution
volume = 22
issue = 7
pages = 357–365
url =
accessdate = 2007-12-29
quote = The longest and best known phenological records come from the Far East and Europe, including ... the 1300+-year Kyoto cherry blossom time series [37] ... These longterm historical records can serve as proxies for temperature where thermometer data are unavailable.
doi = 10.1016/j.tree.2007.04.003
] and Washington, D.C.cite book |editor=Krupnick, Gary A; W. John Kress | author = Peterson, Paul M. |coauthors = Stanwyn G. Shetler, Mones S. Abu-Asab, Sylvia S. Orli| chapter = Chapter 8 Global Climate Change: The Spring Temperate Flora |title=Plant conservation: a natural history approach |publisher=University of Chicago Press |location=Chicago |year=2005 |pages= p. 192 |isbn=0-226-45513-0 |quote=Finally, there is the Cherry Blossom Festival in Washington, DC, each spring. On average the two principal species, Prunus serrulata (Kwanzan cherry and other varieties) and P. X yedoensis ( Yoshino cherry), bloom six and nine days earlier, respectively, than they did in 1970.] Northern hardwood trees have been trending toward leafing out sooner, and retaining their green canopies longer.cite journal
author = Richardson, A.D.
coauthors = Bailey, A.S.; Denny, E.G.; Martin, C.W.; O'Keefe, J.
year = 2006
title = Phenology of a northern hardwood forest canopy
journal = Global Change Biology
volume = 12
issue = 7
pages = 1174–1188
doi = 10.1111/j
quote = …significant trends (P≤0.05) towards an earlier spring (e.g. sugar maple, rate of change=0.18 days earlier/yr), consistent with other studies documenting measurable climate change effects on the onset of spring in both North America and Europe. Our results also suggest that green canopy duration has increased by about 10 days (e.g. sugar maple, rate of change=0.21 days longer/yr) over the period of study.

The effects of season creep have been noted by non-scientists as well, including gardeners who have advanced their spring planting times,cite web |url= |title=Out on a limb: Gardeners excited by the early warmth - call it "season creep" - are experimenting with earlier planting and new varieties.|accessdate=2007-12-23| date=2007-04-07|first = Virginia A. |last = Smith |format= |work=The Philadelphia Inquirer|quote = …earlier springs — an idea known as "season creep" — may or may not be related to long-term warming trends. Yet the reality of year-to-year weather weirdness recently, coupled with the ever-present impulse to outsmart Mother Nature, has prompted more than a few gardeners to shun conventional horticultural wisdom.] and experimented with plantings of less hardy warmer climate varieties of non-native plants.cite web |url= |title=Dogwoods to frogs, tulips to snow, Knox shows signs of warming |accessdate=2007-12-23 |format= |work=Knoxville News Sentinel|author=Williams, Brad| date=2007-04-08| quote=Knoxville is now in hardiness Zone 7, a zone where more southern trees and shrubs flourish. The zone shift can be seen all across the northern half of the state. It effectively means plants that once had difficulty growing here are now finding it easier to thrive, said Lisa Stanley, master gardener at Stanley's Greenhouses] While summer growing seasons are expanding, winters are getting warmer and shorter, resulting in reduced winter ice cover on bodies of water,cite journal
author = Magnuson, J.J.
coauthors = Robertson, D.M.; Benson, B.J.; Wynne, R.H.; Livingstone, D.M.; Arai, T.; Assel, R.A.; Barry, R.G.; Card, V.; Kuusisto, E.; Others,
year = 2000
title = Historical Trends in Lake and River Ice Cover in the Northern Hemisphere
journal = Science
volume = 289
issue = 5485
pages = 1743–1746
url =
accessdate = 2007-12-28
quote = Freeze and breakup dates of ice on lakes and rivers provide consistent evidence of later freezing and earlier breakup around the Northern Hemisphere from 1846 to 1995. Over these 150 years, changes in freeze dates averaged 5.8 days per 100 years later, and changes in breakup dates averaged 6.5 days per 100 years earlier;
doi = 10.1126/science.289.5485.1743
pmid = 10976066
] earlier ice-out,cite journal
author = Hodgkins, G.A.
coauthors = Ii, I.C.J.; Huntington, T.G.
year = 2002
title = Historical Changes In Lake Ice-out Dates As Indicators Of Climate Change In New England, 1850--2000
journal = Int. J. Climatol
volume = 22
pages = 1819–1827
url =
accessdate = 2007-12-28
quote = Various studies have shown that changes over time in spring ice-out dates can be used as indicators of climate change.… Ice-out dates have become significantly earlier in New England since the 1800s
doi = 10.1002/joc.857
] earlier melt water flows,cite web |url= |title=Early Spring Disturbing Life on Northern Rivers |accessdate=2007-12-26 |format= |work=The Washington Post|first = Cheryl Lyn | last = Dybas | date = 2006-03-20 | quote = Research by [USGS hydrologist Glenn] Hodgkins and USGS scientist Robert Dudley also shows changes in early-spring stream flow across eastern North America from Minnesota to Newfoundland. Rivers are gushing with snow- and ice-melt as much as 10 to 15 days sooner than they did 50 to 90 years ago, based on USGS records.] and earlier spring lake level peaks.cite journal |url= |title=Early risers | date=2000-06-03 |accessdate=2007-12-27 | journal = New Scientist | volume = 167 | issue = 2241 | pages = 21| quote = North America's Great Lakes are reaching their spring high-water levels a month earlier than they did when records began in 1860. Levels normally rise in the spring as snow melts, but regional temperatures have been rising for the past 90 years, and winter ice cover has been shrinking.] Some spring events, or "phenophases", have become intermittent or unobservable; for example, bodies of water that once froze regularly most winters now freeze less frequently,cite web |url= |title=Area temperatures expected to rise back to 'normal' |author = Skinner, Victor | accessdate=2007-12-27|date=2007-02-17 |format= |work=Traverse City Record-Eagle|quote=...the west arm of Grand Traverse Bay ... has only frozen over five times since 1987,.... Between 1851 and 1980, [it] froze at least seven years per decade, ... the bay-freezing trend shows "a long-term gradual decline with a significant decline in the past 25 to 35 years.”] cite web |url= |title= Climate Change in the Northeast: Past, Present, and Future|accessdate=2007-12-27 | date = 2006-12-04 |format=pdf | first = Cameron | last = Wake |work= Climate Change in the Hudson Valley, NY|quote = A particularly interesting lake ice record comes from Lake Champlain where they record the ice in date.… Of more significance is the fact that the ice has not frozen in the area of observation in 16 of the past 30 years.] cite web |url= |title=Why Less Winter Ice is the Pitts for State |date=2006-04-03 |accessdate=2007-12-23 |format= |work=The Detroit Free Press|quote = Grand Traverse Bay … froze at least seven winters out of every 10; the rate slipped in the 1980s. In the 1990s, the bay froze only three times. So far this decade, once. Observers see that as one more sign of what some call "season creep," or evidence of global warming. ] and formerly migratory birds are now seen year-round in some areas.cite web |url= |title= Report warns of global warming increase |accessdate=2007-12-27 |format= |work=Portsmouth Herald|quote=…Jan Pendlebury, executive director of the New Hampshire chapter of the National Environmental Trust, said… 'Global warming is forcing changes to the quintessential indicator that spring has arrived: return of the robin. Recent years have documentation that rather than flying south with other feathered friends, many populations of robins are becoming year-round residents, not only in the southern tier of the state, but as far north as Jackson.']

Relationship to global warming

The full impact of global warming is forecast to happen in the future, but climate scientists have cited season creep as an easily observable effect of climate change that has already occurred.cite journal
author = Cleland, E.E.
coauthors = Chiariello, N.R.; Loarie, S.R.; Mooney, H.A.; Field, C.B.
year = 2006
title = Diverse responses of phenology to global changes in a grassland ecosystem
journal = Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
volume = 103
issue = 37
pages = 13740
doi = 10.1073/pnas.0600815103
quote = Shifting plant phenology (i.e., timing of flowering and other developmental events) in recent decades establishes that species and ecosystems are already responding to global environmental change. Earlier flowering and an extended period of active plant growth across much of the northern hemisphere have been interpreted as responses to warming.
pmid = 16954189
] cite web |url= |title=Man bags at ten paces? Just look it up |accessdate=2007-12-23 |date=2007-06-04|format= | News |quote = While the full impact of global warming is still to be experienced, many scientists are warning that it is responsible for earlier springs leading to longer summers.] A large systematic phenological examination of data on 542 plant species in 21 European countries from 1971–2000 showed that 78% of all leafing, flowering, and fruiting records advanced while only 3% were significantly delayed, and these observations were consistent with measurements of observed warming.cite journal
author = Menzel, A.
coauthors = Sparks, T.H.; Estrella, N.; Koch, E.; Aasa, A.; Ahas, R.; Alm-kübler, K.; Bissolli, P.; Braslavská, O.; Briede, A.; Others,
year = 2006
title = European phenological response to climate change matches the warming pattern
journal = Global Change Biology
volume = 12
issue = 10
pages = 1969–1976
doi = 10.1111/j.1365-2486.2006.01193.x
quote = Our results showed that 78% of all leafing, flowering and fruiting records advanced (30% significantly) and only 3% were significantly delayed, whereas the signal of leaf colouring/fall is ambiguous.
] Similar changes in the phenology of plants and animals are occurring across marine, freshwater, and terrestrial groups studied, and these changes are also consistent with the expected impact of global warming.cite journal
author = Parmesan, C.
year = 2006
title = Ecological and evolutionary responses to recent climate change
journal = Annu. Rev. Ecol. Evol. Syst
volume = 37
pages = 637–69
doi = 10.1146/annurev.ecolsys.37.091305.110100
quote = Ecological changes in the phenology and distribution of plants and animals are occurring in all well-studied marine, freshwater, and terrestrial groups. These observed changes are heavily biased in the directions predicted from global warming…
] While phenology fairly consistently points to an earlier spring across temperate regions of North America, a recent comprehensive study of the sub-arctic showed greater variability in the timing of green-up, with some areas advancing, and some having no discernible trend over a recent 44-year period.cite journal
author = Delbart, N.
coauthors = Picard, G.; Kergoat, L.; Letoan, T.; Quegan, S.; Dye, D.; Woodward, I.; Fedotova, V.
year = 2007
title = Spring phenology in taiga and tundra
url =
accessdate = 2007-12-29
quote = The model was applied over the whole low arctic region from 1958 to 2002. In North East Canada and North East Russia, no remarkable trend is found in the timing of green- up, whereas a ten day advance is recorded in the last few decades in North Alaska and in North West Siberia.


"Season creep" was included in the 9th edition of the Collins English Dictionary published in London June 4, 2007.cite web |url= |title='Hoodies', 'size zero', 'man flu', make it into the dictionary |accessdate=2007-12-23 | author = Topping , Alexandra | date = 2007-06-04 |format= |work=The Guardian |quote=A preoccupation with environmental issues, a favourite topic of [British Conservative Party leader David] Cameron's, is also reflected in new phrases such as "carbon footprint", "carbon offsetting" and "season creep", used to describe the changing length of the seasons thought to be caused by climate change.] cite news |url= |title='Season creep', 'BBQ stopper' appear in dictionary pages|date = 2007-06-04 |accessdate=2007-12-23 |work=ABC News Online|quote="Hoodies", "season creep" and "barbecue stopper" are among hundreds of new words and phrases included in an updated version of an English dictionary.] The term was popularized in the media after the report titled "Season Creep: How Global Warming Is Already Affecting The World Around Us" was published by the American environmental organization Clear the Air on March 21, 2006.cite web |url= |title=Season creep |accessdate=2007-12-23 |format= |work=Word Spy|quote=Earliest Citation:… Jonathan Banks, 'Season Creep: How Global Warming Is Already Affecting The World Around Us,' National Environment Trust, March 21, 2006] In the "Season Creep" report, Jonathan Banks, Policy Director for Clear the Air, introduced the term as follows:

Other uses

The term "season creep" has been applied in other contexts as well:
* In professional sports, "season creep" refers to the lengthening of the playing season, especially the extension of the Major League Baseball season to 162 games. [cite web |url= |title=What Has Longer Season Brought To Baseball Besides Snow Warnings? |accessdate=2007-12-26 | date = 1997-10-23 |format= |work=Seattle Post-Intelligencer (Seattle, WA)|quote = Call it season creep. First came the shift to 162 games, a change that made it, among other things, impossible to compare Roger Maris' 61 home runs to Babe Ruth's 60.]
* In college athletics, "season creep" refers to longer periods athletes spend training in their sport. [cite web |url= |title=Virginian-Pilot Archives |accessdate=2007-12-26 | date = 2007-05-29|format= |work=The Virginian-Pilot | publisher = Pilot Media |quote='Season creep' has expanded the time an intercollegiate athlete must devote to his or her specialty. No sport should be year-round or nearly so.]
* In American politics, "campaign season creep" refers to the need for candidates to start fund raising activities sooner.cite web |url= |title=, Greg Sellnow column: I'm just sayin'.|first = Greg | last = Sellnow |accessdate=2007-12-26 | date = 2007-04-07 |format= |work=Post-Bulletin, Rochester, Minn.| quote = And it is money, of course, that is responsible for campaign season creep. If you don't raise money early -- gobs and gobs of it -- you'll find yourself on the fundraising super highway with roller marks over your body, where your opponent's war chest plowed over you.]
* In retailing, "holiday season creep", also known as "Christmas creep", is the earlier appearance of holiday themed merchandising, extending the holiday shopping season.cite web |url= |title=He's well-suited to enjoying life of Santa | first = Alf | last = Siewers |accessdate=2007-12-26 | date = 1987-11-25|format= |work=Chicago Sun-Times| quote = And so does the culture, with a commercializing of himself that Santa deplores even as he has watched the holiday season creep back to Labor Day.]


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  • season creep — n. Earlier spring weather and other gradual seasonal shifts, particularly those caused by global climate change. Example Citations: Ice records on Grand Traverse Bay show a disturbing new pattern. After 13 decades in which the bay froze at least… …   New words

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