Early Cherry Blossoms
The famed cherry trees of Tokyo began to blossom on March 14, matching the earliest date on record since observations began in 1953. The Japan Meteorological Agency said the “Somei Yoshino” variety buds appeared at the Yasukuni Shrine on the same day in 2020 and 2021 as well, which is 10 days earlier than the longterm average.
The agency says the trees should be in full bloom across the capital in the next week and should soon burst forth earlier than normal in other parts of the country, due to rising temperatures. Residents will be able to gather in public spaces to enjoy the blooms for the first time since the pandemic.
Oceans of Plastic
The amount of microplastic debris littering the world’s oceans has undergone a dramatic surge since 2005, with researchers saying there are now 2.5 million tonnes of it in the sea. Marcus Eriksen and Lisa Erdle at the 5 Gyres Institute in Santa Monica, California, and their colleagues say scarce data on plastic pollution between 1979 and 1990 make it impossible to see how fast it was increasing during that period.
Observations between 1990 and 2004 show it was fluctuating with no clear trend. But concentrations have risen in recent years to more than 10 times their levels in 2005. A legally binding treaty among 175 countries to control plastic pollution is expected to be drafted and debated by 2024.