Study to Examine If Climate Change Makes Fall Foliage, Leaf

Now that it's officially Fall, the announcement of this new study seems prudent, timely, and worth a trip to New England. Scientists at the University of Vermont have a three-year, $45,000 grant from the Department of Agriculture to study the effects of climate change on the famous Fall foliage. It's not just a tree-hugging (or leaf-loving) move. Fall leaves, especially in the peak season of late-September to early-October, bring $364 million in tourism dollars to the state. Money, it seems, does grow on trees.

One researcher says, "It is getting warmer, and people want to know how that's going to affect this big process that's so important to us." Because decreasing day length causes chlorophyll to break down making the red shine through, scientists want to see the true effect of cold nights and warm days on the leaves — especially if the overall temperature of both rises.

As for the leaves now? "It's always great. . . it can peak in different places at the same time so you just drive around and you hit all these different pockets of the landscape, so it's always fabulous."