on landscape The online magazine for landscape photographers

The Science of Autumn

Why Do Leaves Go Brown and Fall Off

Tim Parkin

Tim Parkin

Amateur Photographer who plays with big cameras and film when in between digital photographs.

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Every autumn we go through the same cycles of: “Autumn is early!”, “Autumn is late!”, “It looks like a good one coming”, “The leaves will be gone by November”. Our knowledge of the vagaries of autumnal colour is that loose that we grasp hold of any indicator that might support previous experience or not.

I thought that this Autumn I would find out a little bit more about the processes behind our arboreal splendor and try to use this knowledge to let us be a bit more scientific about assessing our chances of ‘peak colour’.

552-blend2-flat-crop

Ardnamurchan, 20/10/13

If you've got any observations about how Autumn is affected by the environment or can tell us which trees go first or last we'd love to expand this article with some more real world information. Head over to our Facebook Page and upload your photos of autumn colour where you are [Click here]

Finally thanks to the Lake District's David and Angie Unsworth for helping with some of the 'on the ground' observations supporting some of the science in this article.



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  • Adam Pierzchala

    I’m surprised nobody has praised you for all this research! Being a lapsed chemist I found it fascinating and the accompanying photos are a visual treat even if we have seen some before.

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