Saturday, August 18, 2012

Changing Colors?

If you didn't know any better, a hike or bike up City Creek Canyon this weekend might fool you into thinking it's fall.  Quite a bit of the scrub oak has changed colors, giving an autumnal feel despite the apocalyptic warmth and smoke.

I don't have any scientific evidence to back this up, but I don't think the colors are due to the changing seasons given that it is only mid August.  My guess it is is due to the drought and the combination of a lack of precipitation and high temperatures.  Perhaps an ecologist out there can comment.


  1. You're probably right. I've always said that by the time fall comes around in the Valley the trees are so stressed that they finally just give up and turn from greenish to brown.

  2. I was just noticing the scrub in the bottom of Big Cottonwood was turning colors on my way down this afternoon and was talking to some friends about it. The scrub higher up was green, so I suspect it would have to be heat/drought/etc ?

  3. Actually, water is a key element in photosynthesis (search "6H2O + 6CO2") which provides a scientific basis for why plants may stop producing chlorophyll and go into hibernation mode when it is very dry. Also, smoke in the atmosphere probably has the effect of shortening the day length since it reduces sunlight particularly in the morning and evening, so that might be an important catalyst for the early color change. I wonder too if the warm spring and early onset of the plant growth cycle plays a role.