What's interesting me right now

Stephen McHugh
This post was last updated on
September 30, 2022
Category :

Another post, and another chance to use one of my interests to express and continue to improve myself. There’s something linked to one of my interests at the time of writing this. 

It’s the end of September, and the autumn season is already here. Here, in the UK autumn starts meteorologically on the 1st September, and continues until 30th November, taking us to the winter season. 

Astronomically, in the UK, it can begin on any date between 21st to 24th September, when days and nights are as long as each other, and ends on the shortest day of a particular year, either the 21st or 22nd of December. 

It is during the autumn where leaves can lose their green colours, and start to display reds, oranges, yellows, and in some cases, purples. 

The greens we see in leaves are due to a substance called chlorophyll in them, which reflects green light. When the autumn comes, the leaves sense a reduction in sunlight  and temperature. This causes the chlorophyll to break down into other substances, resulting in the shades of red, orange and yellows revealing themselves. 

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But right now, at the time of writing, I can’t help but notice that there doesn’t seem to be as much colour change of leaves, well, not yet anyway. 

For those of you into science, during a process called photosynthesis, light energy from the sun is used to combine carbon dioxide gas with water to make a sugar called glucose, with oxygen gas being a byproduct of the process. The glucose is then converted into other substances for other functions, including growth.

During this summer of 2022 in the UK, the temperatures broke records, with 40 degrees Celsius exceeded for the first time. In addition, there was very little in terms of rainfall. This combination of such events meant plants and trees may have lost water faster than they could have gained it. 

And without adequate supplies of water, plants and trees can’t grow. Trees may therefore have had to use particular substances as food this year, substances which may otherwise have presented us with a fantastic variety of leaf colours. This may possibly account for the lack of brilliance of autumn colours so far this year, or if it continues for the rest of the autumn. This is based on my knowledge and understanding of the science involved.

But then of course nature could prove my predictions wrong, and we may see a lot of colour yet. We must wait and see. This, for me, is the nature and fun of science. This particular post helps me to have the confidence to say what I think, and not to be frightened of being wrong about something.


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