WENY News - Cornell Using Lilac Bulbs to Predict Start of Spring

Cornell Using Lilac Bulbs to Predict Start of Spring

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ITHACA, N.Y. (WENY) -- We know if the groundhog "Punxsutawney Phil" sees his shadow, it means six more weeks of winter. But experts at Cornell have created a way to predict when spring will start--using science.

The University is using a tool called "springcasting," which uses lilac bulbs to predict the start of spring.

"When the lilac bushes start to put on their leaves, that's a pretty good indication that spring has begun," says Toby Ault, Assistant Professor with Cornell's Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences.

The hope is to help farmers and producers better their crops if they know when to begin planting and harvesting.

Back on groundhog day, Punxsutawney Phil did see his shadow, forecasting another six weeks of winter.

Experts at Cornell have already begun looking at whether or not Spring will come early, late or right on time this year at a few regions across the US. In the west, for example, the system predicted an early spring, while the east would experience spring a little earlier.

"The work we're doing now with this springcasting effort is trying to predict that window of time--when the lilac bushes start putting on their leaves--is going to happen, not just that week or the week before [or] two, three, four weeks before," says Ault.

Cornell is now asking for feedback from the agriculture industry to fine-tune their work. 

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