Exploring 4 fun mysteries of fall – Spectrum News

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With fall finally here, let’s take a look at some interesting facts that come with the wonderful season.


What You Need To Know

  • The autumnal equinox is a time and not day
  • Sunshine and chlorophyll change leaves’ colors
  • Fall is also know as aurora season

Why the autumnal equinox occurs on a different day each year

Astronomical fall typically begins on either September 22, 23, or 24 of each year. But, why does it occur on a different day from year to year?

The equinox isn’t a daylong event. The position of the Earth and the sun defines what happens at a particular time of year.

That being said, the Gregorian calendar does not match up perfectly with the position of the Earth and it’s orbit around the sun.

If the Earth’s orbit around the sun took exactly 365 days, the time of the autumnal equinox would occur at the same time every year, but the earth’s orbit actually takes about 365 days, 5 hours, and 59 minutes.

That added time allows for variation in the timing of the autumnal equinox.

It’s also why we have leap day.

Why leaves change colors in the fall

Do you ever wonder why we get those brilliant yellow, orange, and red colors in the fall?

It all has to do with sunshine and chlorophyll.

In the leaves, chlorophyll helps produce nutrients that give the plant life. It does this by soaking in the sun’s energy and using that energy to convert carbon dioxide and water to carbohydrates that the plant can use. It also gives leaves their green color.

In the spring and summer, there is plenty of sunshine for the chlorophyll to do its job. However, in the fall, days get shorter, and sunshine isn’t as abundant.

The change in daylight and temperature cause the plant to stop the food-making process. In turn, the chlorophyll isn’t needed and it breaks down, taking the green color with it and revealing the beautiful hues we associate with fall.

Animals also respond to the change of the season

Snowshoe Hare: The snowshoe hare isn’t white all year round. Their fur is typically a dark brown color, but they will start the switch to white in the fall. This helps them hide from predators in the winter. It takes about 10 weeks to completely change their coat color.

A black-capped chickadee. Courtesy: AP/Orlin Wagner

Black-Capped Chickadee: In the fall, this bird hides seeds to eat later and can remember thousands of hiding spots. They allow their brain neurons that contain old information to die, allowing new neurons to grow so they can adapt to the new environments.

Ladybugs: Believe it or not, ladybugs also fatten up for the winter. During fall, they eat thousands of aphids and other prey. After feasting, they gather in large groups to wait out the winter. The big group of bright colors often warns predators to stay away.

A grizzly bear in Yellowstone National Park. Courtesy: AP/Jim Urquhart

Grizzly Bears: A grizzly’s body can regulate its genes differently in the fall and winter. This allows their bodies to process sugars in a way that help their brain during hibernation. It also allows their body to metabolize fat during hibernation so they can survive.

Fall can bring beautiful light shows

The aurora borealis in Juneau, Alaska. Courtesy: AP/Rashah McChesney

Fall is one of the best times to view auroras. NASA even calls fall the “aurora season.”

NASA explains that auroras appear during geomagnetic storms. When a solar wind gust travels towards earth, the particles from the wind react with the earth’s magnetic field.

Particles in the magnetic field get “knocked loose,” and when those particles hit the earth’s atmosphere, it produces the beautiful light show.

The reason fall is one of the best times to view these light shows is one, nights are longer which is the best time to view them and two, geomagnetic storms are twice as frequent in the fall.

The fall season

Fall is a great season for many outdoor activities, including hiking, leaf-peeping, and stargazing.

Try to get out as much as possible to explore all the beautiful wonders of the season.

Our team of meteorologists dives deep into the science of weather and breaks down timely weather data and information. To view more weather and climate stories, check out our weather blogs section.


This page was created programmatically, to read the article in its original location you can go to the link bellow:
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