Ault unveils ‘springcasting’ in March 3 webinar

Toby Ault


Thanks to a changing environment, trees and other plants experience advanced budding and blooming – or season creep. Toby Ault, assistant professor of earth and atmospheric science, will discuss “springcasting” in a public webinar hosted by USA National Phenology Network on Tuesday, March 3, at 12:30 p.m.

“The timing of spring in North America is marked by the return of warmer weather, migrations of animals, birds and insects, and the emergence of foliage after being dormant through the winter,” said Ault, who directs Cornell’s Emerging Climate Risk Lab.

Ault will present an overview of climate patterns giving rise to year-to-year variations in the timing of North American spring. “I’ll connect these fluctuations in the world’s oceans and atmosphere to the kinds of observations made on the ground by citizen scientists collaborating with the National Phenology Network,” he said.

Viewers can log on to the webinar at

Ault also will describe his lab’s pilot program on springcasting, which will allow scientists and observers to engage in dialogue about spring “green-up” and “leaf-out” as it happens.

Using historical observations of the timing of leaf-out and bloom in cloned lilacs, honeysuckle and gathering data from nearby weather stations, scientists have been able to determine the weather conditions that precede spring leaf emergence in these plants, as a composite for nature’s “start of spring.” Ault will describe how this springcast work extends to many other species and has direct utility to economic sectors.

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Melissa Osgood