Thoreau's Journals Help Track Climate Change

Spring comes about 10 days earlier now in Concord, Massachusetts: Study
By Dustin Lushing,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 14, 2012 2:26 PM CDT
Henry David Thoreau, the author of the classic Walden, a chronicle of two years he spent isolated in nature.   (Shutterstock)
camera-icon View 1 more image

(Newser) – Henry David Thoreau has come to to the rescue of scientists seeking valuable climate data. The Walden author kept meticulous notes of flowering patterns in Concord, Massachusetts, between 1851 and 1858. After crunching Thoreau's numbers, researchers have found the average temperature in Concord has risen an estimated 4.3 degrees Fahrenheit in the past 155 years, reports the Guardian. (The full report is in the journal BioScience.)

A plant's schedule of blooming is closely linked to temperature, and Thoreau's data indicate that plants in Concord are flowering on average 10 days earlier than they did in his day. "We had been searching for historical records for about six months when we learned about Thoreau's plant observations," says one of the scientists. "We knew right away that they would be incredibly useful for climate change research because they were from 150 years ago, there were so many species included, and they were gathered by Thoreau." Click for more.

My Take on This Story