Why do fall colors happen?

The science behind fall colors

MINNEAPOLIS - For many of us, autumn is our favorite season and it's easy to understand why but what makes those colors shine brilliantly under the fall sun? It's because of the chlorophyll in the leaves.
 
 "Underneath that green, or within that green, the colors yellow and orange already exist," said Kim Thomas, Curator of Horticulture at the Minnesota Zoo.
 
Chlorophyll gives the green that we see in the trees. As our days start to get shorter -- the chlorophyll breaks down revealing those vibrant colors. However, the weather can also be a factor.

 "Sometimes too cold too early, or too cold too late and things won't peak out the way you want," said Kim.

Windy weather, which is common in the fall, can also strip the leaves off the trees before they are at peak.

Also, if you have ever wondered why your tree or one in your neighborhood is already at its peak much earlier than the rest, Kim at the Minnesota Zoo, has a possible reason why.

"Those trees that are highly hybridized, they will often change at a different time than some of the native species," said Kim.

So in the next few weeks if you want to see the best fall colors, hope for sunny days with mild nights and we might have one of the most colorful years ever.

If you want to see where the fall colors are now:

Minnesota Fall Color Finder

Wisconsin Fall Color

© 2017 KARE-TV


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