Threatened with the disappearance of its culturally iconic cherry blossoms, Japanese scientists have used heavy ion beams to create a new breed of tree that blooms throughout the year.
The Japanese have for centuries celebrated the arrival of spring by sitting beneath cherry trees as their delicate blossoms open each year, but due to global warming and the impact of rising temperatures in cities caused by vehicle emissions, air conditioning units and other forms of pollution, the trees are blooming earlier every year.
Not only are they coming earlier – five days ahead of schedule last year – but research suggests that the trees are producing fewer blooms.
“We have noticed that since around 1990, temperatures have been rising noticeably and the number of cherry blossoms being produced has decreased,” said Dr. Tomoko Abe, head of the Radiation Biology Team at the state-run RIKEN research institute.
“Cherry trees require a minimum of 8,000 hours of low temperatures over the winter to produce the optimum blossoms, but as Japan gets warmer we are falling short of that figure,” said.
“And that is a problem because we Japanese love cherry blossom season.”
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