Saturday, September 9, 2017

Fall Peak Foliage Map

Fall is almost upon us. That means among other things plenty of apple and pumpkin pies, apple cider, baked apples, various sorts of apples in apple mills and grocery stores, women in sweaters, football, and the thankful departure of heat, humidity and insects. But as wonderful as all of those things are, perhaps the most glorious indication of autumn is the changing colors of the leaves as they slowly fall from the trees. This is really fun to watch and experience. There is a lot of beauty in the world. Fall is a great time to look around and experience it. The monotony of the summer season's green disappears in an explosion of all sorts of reds, oranges, browns, and yellows. I think that Michigan provides one of the most exciting displays of this change but in truth most places in the United States offer the marking of the changing of seasons and the approach of winter. The below foliage map shows the peak color change times for the lower 48 US states. Hopefuly wherever you may be you can take some time out to enjoy the physical beauty of the world. 

Some consider it to be the most incredible time of the year. Gorgeous colors vibrantly encoring the end of summer as the trees put themselves to bed for the long sleep of winter. The Great Smoky Mountains floods with thousands upon thousands of annual visitors all hoping to achieve a breath taking view of the beautiful renaissance of nature.

The Science Of It All
It all starts with photosynthesis. Leaves typically produce their vivid hues of green from spring through summer into early fall through the constant creation of Chlorophyll. As we all learned in 5th grade science, Chlorophyll is the key component in a plant's ability to turn sunlight into glucose, which in turn feeds the trees. Many millions of these Chlorophyll cells saturate the leaves, ultimately making them appear green to the eye.

The Changing Colors
Chlorophyll is not the only player in the fall leaf color game. Present in other leaves and trees are the compounds known as Carotenoids and Anthocyanins. As the Fall days begin to get shorter and shorter, the production of Chlorophyll slows to a halt, eventually giving way to the ‘true’ color of the leaf.

Beta-Carotene is one of the most common carontenoids present in most leaves. Strongly absorbing blue and green light, it reflects yellow and red light from the sun, giving leaves their orange hue.

Unlike the carotenoids, anthocyanin production increases dramatically with autumn. This protects the leaf, prolonging its life on the tree through the Autumn season, and also provides the beautiful red color to the leaf.

Flavonol, a part of the flavonoid protein family, is always present in leaves, and also contributes to the yellow color of egg yolks. While always present in leaves, it’s not seen until the production of Chlorophyll begins to slow.



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