Cherry blossoms are  budding in Changwon, South Gyeongsang Province, Saturday. The annual spring flower festival kicked off, Saturday, with less than 10 percent of flowering rate due to climate change. Yonhap

Local governments, renowned for hosting iconic flower festivals every spring, find themselves grappling with flowerless venues this year.The delayed blooming of seasonal flowers, primarily attributed to climate change, has resulted in a significant setback, leaving these venues bereft of their usual vibrant displays.The Jinhae Gunhangje Festival, Korea’s largest cherry blossom festival that is held in the southern port city of Changwon, South Gyeongsang Province, kicked off on Saturday. However, as of Sunday, the city’s flowering rate stood at only 15 percent, with the full bloom phase anticipated to occur later next week, according to the city government.Another major cherry blossom fair, Jeju Cherry Blossom Festival on the southern resort island, which usually celebrates the country’s earliest blooming of spring flowers, faced a similar situation this year as the event kicked off on Friday without full blossoms.

The Korea Meteorological Administration’s (KMA) Jeju branch said the flowers bloomed on Saturday, a day later than last year. The weather agency expects the blossom to reach its peak on the island around the end of March.The southern port city of Ulsan also started its cherry blossom without flowers, Saturday. Despite warm weather of around 23 degrees Celsius, cherry blossoms are still budding there. In the worst-case scenario, the flowers will blossom only around next weekend, close to when the event ends.A popular cherry blossom street in Seoul’s Yeouido plans to welcome visitors from this Friday until April 2, but the flowers are expected to blossom only around April 3, according to officials from Yeongdeungpo District.Cherry blossom flowers are greeted with much excitement here and create ripple effects of some 300 percent surges in sales at sightseeing tourism districts, according to a report by KB Kookmin Card.

This year, many local governments moved up the dates for the festivals in response to last year’s abnormally early blooming caused by warming temperatures.Even a month ago, many anticipated the flowers to bloom earlier than usual, again, as abnormally high temperatures were recorded last winter. The country’s average temperature last month was 4.1 degrees Celsius, registered as the highest in February since 1973.But the weather changed suddenly in March, with abnormal subzero temperatures and lower precipitation levels, failing to offer the necessary and sufficient conditions for the spring flowers to bloom.During the opening ceremony for the event in Jeju, Jeju City Mayor Kang Byung-sam said, “Due to the last cold snap and shortage of sunlight, cherry blossoms failed to fully blossom,” encouraging visitors to enjoy other cultural events featured in the festival, including live band performances, a singing contest and magic shows instead.

In response to climate change, Cheonan in South Chungcheong Province, rescheduled its flower festival a week later than originally planned to sync with the belated blooming. The event will take place between April 6 and 7, instead of March 30 and 31.“Around this time of the year, every year, Cheonan boasts a breathtaking cherry blossom spectacle stretching 15 kilometers. However, due to abnormal temperature, the city failed to predict the timing of flower blooming,” the organizers said.The World Meteorological Organization’s (WMO) Global Climate 2023 report released on March 19 confirmed that 2023 was the warmest year on record, with the global average near-surface temperature at 1.45 Celsius degree above the pre-industrial revolution baseline.As a result, heatwaves, floods, droughts, wildfires and intensifying tropical cyclones damaged the lives of millions and inflicted billions of dollars in economic 스포츠토토존 losses, the report said.

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