Spring is late in Sweden for second year in a row

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Spring is late in Sweden for second year in a row
A willow bloom seen in late April in southern Stockholm. Photo: Nora Lorek / TT

No, you're not imagining it, spring is coming late again this year in Sweden.


According to a report from the Swedish Agricultural University, which runs the “Spring Watch” or Vårkollen project, flowers have yet to bloom and trees have yet to break their buds in areas of northern Sweden where spring would usually be in full flow. 

In a normal year, birch leaves would have started to break out on the border of Norrland, the most northerly of Sweden's three lands by May 1st. But both this year and last year,  birch leaves have only been spotted as far north as the area around Lake Mälaren, which includes cities like Uppsala, Stockholm and Eskilstuna.   

Willow flowers have also not been reported anywhere north of Mälardalen and central Värmland, like last year, while hemlock flowers, which usually bloom in mid-May and spread all the way to Svealand, have only bloomed on the west and south coast.

This is the ninth year in a row that researchers from the Swedish Agricultural University have teamed up with The Swedish Botanical Association to conduct Vårkollen on the Valborg weekend. 

Volunteers for the project send in reports from all over Sweden documenting when different plants start blooming, helping track the effects of climate change on Sweden's wildlife.

The long-term trend is for spring to get earlier in Sweden. Even this year, the first birch leaves of spring came 50 miles further north than they did in the second half of the 19th century, the researchers noted.  

“Our research shows that birch buds burst and spring flowers bloom a couple of weeks earlier than they did in 1873 and we know that various species are going to be affected in various ways by climate change,” Ola Langvall at the Swedish University of Agriculture, said in a press release.  

But he said that this overall trend did not mean there could not be years like the current one with a late spring.  

“We also see that spring weather in individual years can make us temporarily go back to the spring of the 19th century," he said. 


Mora Aronsson, chair of the The Swedish Botanical Association, said she was pleased that “so many people want to be citizen-researchers”. 

“These observations of signs of spring contribute to scientific knowledge, and are invaluable in the way they enable us to collect information from across the country at one and the same time,” she said in a press release

If you missed the chance to participate in Vårkollen, there is a second event planned:  Försommarkollen, which tracks the arrival of the Swedish season of försommar, or “early spring”. On World Environment day, June 5th, people across Sweden are invited to report on any lily of the valley, daisies and lilacs they have spotted. You can take part by clicking on this link on June 5th and 6th. 

This article was written by Tessa Hicks


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