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Cherry Blossom Fraud

April 28, 2017

By Paul Homewood




From the Economist:


HANAMI, the Japanese custom of contemplating the impermanence of life by gazing at the fleeting beauty of blossoming flowers, goes back a long way. “The Tale of Genji”, a tenth-century masterpiece that is perhaps the world’s first novel, devotes a chapter to the cherry-blossom festival staged in the emperor’s great hall. Diarists have keenly chronicled the comings and goings of cherry blossoms for centuries—records from Kyoto, the old capital, date back 1,200 years. This precious, ancient data set reveals a disturbing trend: in recent decades, the blossoms have emerged much sooner than they once did.

From its most recent peak in 1829, when full bloom could be expected to come on April 18th, the typical full-flowering date has drifted earlier and earlier. Since 1970, it has usually landed on April 7th. The cause is little mystery. In deciding when to show their shoots, cherry trees rely on temperatures in February and March. Yasuyuki Aono and Keiko Kazui, two Japanese scientists, have demonstrated that the full-blossom date for Kyoto’s cherry trees can predict March temperatures to within 0.1°C. A warmer planet makes for warmer Marches. The usual full-blooming date in Washington, DC, whose cherry-blossom festival is a relative newcomer (it launched in 1927), has also moved up by five days since the first recorded date in 1921.


Early blooming has nothing to do with “climate change”, but the urban heat island effect.

Since 1890, the population of Kyoto has expanded hugely:





Moreover, the city has been transformed from what it would have looked like even fifty years ago. A concrete jungle has now grown up around the original medieval city.

Furthermore, Kyoto sits in the Yamashiro basin, surrounded on three sides by mountains, and opening to the south. This helps to trap urban heat.


In fact, the study which the Economist refers to does not even mention “climate change” or “global warming” in its Abstract. It simply states that flowering dates correlate to temperatures in February and March.

Indeed, the paper actually refers to another study which found that urbanisation accounted for 1.1C of warming in Kyoto between 1940 and 1990. This is actually more then enough to account for flowering a week or so earlier.

  1. Jack Broughton permalink
    April 28, 2017 3:06 pm

    The graph gives an interesting insight into modern science. The spread of data is wide and clearly shows (without any strangulation of data) that the mean is about the 15th and the standard deviation is about 7.5 days. The problem is that excel produces such clever curve fits and trends that people start to conclude that there must be some possible climatic effect.

    The marked trend towards earlier blossom is interesting: This could be a combination of increased CO2 and UHI effect, or just natural variability. Interesting that the early trend started about 1850, so could relate to recovery from the LIA I suppose…. just like the rest of the global temperature rise.

    The BBC will no doubt use this to prove that disaster is looming!

  2. adeverson permalink
    April 28, 2017 3:07 pm

    Not only that, but the study refers to these data showing the “existence of four cold periods,1330–1350, 1520–1550, 1670–1700, and 1825–1830, during which periods the estimated March mean temperature was 4–5°C, about 3–4°C lower than the present normal temperature.” Between those dates it was obviously warmer. These periods coincide exactly with the medieval warming period and the mini-ice age that climate change alarmists are trying to deny.

  3. christopher booker permalink
    April 28, 2017 3:18 pm

    Paul, another excellent post on flowering times which, as you know, has long been an interest of mine. When in the 1960s I regularly alternated between my flat near St James’s Parkl in London and my parents’ home in rural Dorset, I regularly noted how te appearance of flowers and blossom in London were up to two weeks ahead of those in the countryside. This confirmed the finding of Luke Howard, known for his early observations of the urban heat island effect” (and the “namer of clouds”) in his Climate of London that the heat given off by the mass of building in London could elevate temperatures by as much as 3.7 degrees. Your Kyoto example, correlating population growth, and with that stunning picture of how changed the city has become today, could have been made the basis for a PhD thesis, as could not a few of your posts. But I know you haven’t got time for such trivia!

    • AZ1971 permalink
      April 28, 2017 3:46 pm

      It’s not trivia. It’s a legitimate, overlooked aspect of the temperature data graphs being foisted as “evidence” of climate change. The UHI is a much larger influence than purported because of the increase in ‘E’ temperature errors by USHCN and the fact that the “official” temperature is both homogenized and run through a computer algorithm to assure accuracy.

      What of surrounding geography? Wind patterns? Siting? Cloud cover? There are myriad number of criteria useful in explaining why and/or how the temperature in a given location may vary from a neighboring station which cannot be picked up from a simple MMS thermocouple reading. It is why, when looking at the historical record of any urbanized location, the UHI effect is over-weighted but ignored by the pundits.

      • John F. Hultquist permalink
        April 28, 2017 4:42 pm

        I believe you have missed the meaning of Mr. Booker’s “such trivia.”
        Hint: Ph. D. = piled higher and deeper

    • Old Englander permalink
      April 30, 2017 8:49 am

      It isn’t PhD theses that are needed. A serious suggestion is a compilation of all the most misleading scare stories on one page and the factual refutation on the facing page. Though this might make it a very large format book, and a fat one. My favourite examples would be the imminent melting of Greenland, the collapse of the Larsen ice shelves, the “insanely hot” Arctic in the year we had snow in the Sahara desert, and (on TalkTalk’s webmail page today) “Newly discovered melting glaciers have scientists predicting rises of up to 12ft” (yes, still). A published catalogue of such propositions and refutations would go a long way to neutralise so much of these tedious fallacies, which the ignorant don’t see through, but which still have their effect on those too busy to wade through all the detail, or the background. As for the UHI, I remember clearly the geography class in which I was taught about that at the age of 12. What goes on in school now ?

  4. Ross King permalink
    April 28, 2017 3:18 pm

    I wonder if other records exist in different parts of the World regarding blossom-time, partic’ly for non UHI-affected areas? How about the “grand gardens”? The orchards ought to have records, if not for only cherry-blossom, but they’d be useful for comparative purposes year-by-year within respective varieties.
    Over to you hort’icists!

  5. roger permalink
    April 28, 2017 3:21 pm

    It’s all very well fabricating significance to the date your cherry blossoms or plums flower, but even more important is the date of your last withering frost of the spring.
    Here in southern Scotland several hard frosts occuring after these fruits have blossomed have destroyed any chance of fruit for the second year running, and reports across Europe indicate that this is a continent wide problem.
    Were I to be of the green persuasion and a vegan to boot, I should be concerned that global cooling might be causing scarcity of my staple diet.
    However as a carnivore, happily occupying the apex of the food chain and observing the strong growth of grass and contented beasts around me despite the frosts, I am content.

    • AZ1971 permalink
      April 28, 2017 3:50 pm

      Contentment indeed does come in the form of a nice rasher of streaky bacon, rack of lamb, or shepherd’s pie. I am so wanting to have some of the latter again but it’s difficult to feel the mood when here in Arizona, the temperature is 31°C and will soon top 37°C in a matter of days.

      • Tom O permalink
        April 28, 2017 5:07 pm

        Ah, but you will still be going out in the backyard to barbeque I am sure!

  6. diogenese2 permalink
    April 28, 2017 3:50 pm

    The Economist was right though – at least according to the AMS.


    *This question was preceded by the following language: “Please read the following information: The American Meteorological Society (AMS) defines climate change as: Any systematic change in the long-term statistics of climate elements (such as temperature, pressure, or winds) sustained over several decades or longer. Climate change may be due to: natural external forcings, such as changes in solar emission or slow changes in the earth’s orbital elements; natural internal processes of the climate system; or anthropogenic forcing.”

    So the early blossom WAS due to climate change – in Kyoto of all places.

    At least the AMS definition of climate is more restrained than that of the IPCC which
    embraces “….. millennia or millions of years” , but perhaps not, “or longer” could include the Big Bang.

  7. April 28, 2017 4:41 pm

    Reblogged this on WeatherAction News and commented:
    the paper actually refers to another study which found that urbanisation accounted for 1.1C of warming in Kyoto between 1940 and 1990

    I’m sure this data will be re-accommodated 😉

  8. John F. Hultquist permalink
    April 28, 2017 4:54 pm

    Metro areas and the UHI effect can warm a place on average. What they cannot do is prevent frosts when clear nights and generally cold air conspire. “Radiation cooling” can be fast and intense. Clouds and water vapor slow/prevent rapid cooling. CO2 in the atmosphere will have (almost) no effect.
    The Cherry Trees in Washington D.C. learned this the hard way this year.
    You can look it up.

    • Keitho permalink
      April 30, 2017 2:32 pm

      That is a very interesting insight. Thank you Dr Hultquist.

    • Andy DC permalink
      May 2, 2017 3:38 am

      The cold that destroyed the DC cherry blossoms this past March was not a radiative type of cold (calm conditions, clear skies), rather it was accompanied by 30 mph winds, more of an advective kind of cold.

      I don’t believe the DC cherry blossoms have showed very much of a pattern going back to at least the 1940’s.

  9. April 28, 2017 5:01 pm

    Oh the ancient art of bullshiti

    • April 28, 2017 5:15 pm

      Bullshido perhaps. The way of the eco-warrior?

  10. April 28, 2017 5:33 pm

    Over the last 13 years I have noted a subtle change in the climate debate. Initially we had AGW namely Anthro’ Global Warming. However at the advent of the “Pause” in global temperature this changed to AGCC: Anthro’ Global Climate Change. Both having the same implicit implication that CO2 was the prime driver, with the associated guilt factor built in.

    The proponents of Green Action now have the surety of an obvious and inevitable change in the climate upon which to base their agenda, rather than reliance on the temperature statistics.
    Clever stuff! Particularly where UHI, deforestation and Ninos are concerned. Not to mention volcanic activity and all the other variables involved.
    Meanwhile the obsession with pesky CO2 rules. H’vn forbid.

    • April 28, 2017 6:14 pm

      Don’t forget the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change [sic] was formed in 1988.

      • April 29, 2017 12:26 am

        oldbrew: Agreed but I have only been following the debate over the last 13 years.
        I suspect that it was the Ramaswamy et al paper of 1972 on the definition and concept of Forcing Rate that kicked off this wild goose chase; but I am only working from memory here so don’t give too much credence to that.
        As this definition of Forcing rate does not comply with thermodynamic law the IPCC et al is now stuck with the problem. (see page 133 WG1 AR4)

    • R2Dtoo permalink
      April 29, 2017 11:12 am

      They can change the narrative all they want, but as long as the measurement target remains a warming of 1.5/2.0 degrees/doubling of CO2, it is “global warming”.

      • April 29, 2017 1:42 pm

        Yes indeed R2Dtoo; but it is the narrative that is now driving the Green Brigade where every quirk in the weather/climate is now deemed as evidence of the purported CO2 influence. Hence the need for Paul Holmwood’s excellent contributions.

  11. April 28, 2017 6:42 pm

    The Greens are soon going to have to change their name as NASA record the beneficial greening of the planet due to CO2:

  12. Gillespie Robertson permalink
    April 28, 2017 9:38 pm

    The magnificent Japanese cherry trees (prunus edoensis) in Dovehouse Street in London SW3 were at their peak bloom on March 31, 2017. So they were on March 31, 1990, 27 years ago to the day, and the day of my daughter’s wedding which is why we remember it so well. So much for “climate change,” let alone the supposedly dangerous or human-induced variety.

  13. AndyG55 permalink
    April 29, 2017 4:44 am

    Japan temperatures.. from 1950-1990

    There was a step up in the mid-late 1990’s, which is found in many Asian records, then we get the temperatures since 1998

  14. AndyG55 permalink
    April 29, 2017 4:48 am

    Just found an earlier one. again a step up in the late 1940’s, but before that.

    data from

  15. Ben Vorlich permalink
    April 29, 2017 8:28 am

    Are fruit trees any better at getting it right than anyone else? France has suffered from late frosts with widespread damage to vines and fruit trees last week. It looks like this years apple crop will be reduced as in many areas the fruit had set on the trees. The same thing happened 6 or 7 years ago. Perhaps an indication of cooling in the countryside.

  16. Gerry, England permalink
    April 29, 2017 12:13 pm

    Well we have had a few sharp frosts this last week in my corner of Surrey and the leaves on the magnolia trees do not look happy. They were bright green a couple of weeks ago but have darkened and shrunk.

  17. Fred permalink
    May 1, 2017 9:44 am

    Another possibility is light i believe they are mass growing vegetables using different colored lights and duration to grow them faster.They must have an increase of light due to urban sprawl.

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