What’s Responsible For Fall Foliage?

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STROUDSBURG, MONROE COUNTY— We look forward to it every year– the leaves changing across Pennsylvania during the fall. But what causes the leaves to change in the first place? It turns out the answer lies, in part, in the weather, and the climate.

Plants use chlorophyll, which is pigmented green, during the process of photosynthesis– where they derive their own energy, partially, from the sun.

However, due to the earth’s natural tilt, the northern hemisphere sees continuously less sunlight between the Summer and Winter Solstices. With less sunlight to process, there is less use for chlorophyll, and, eventually, chlorophyll breaks down.

As does its green pigment, revealing brighter colors underneath. Those colors range from bright oranges, to mellow yellows, with a few shades of brown in between.

When it comes to the brilliant reds that complete the painting, it’s a matter of the weather.

“So that red pigment is actually something that’s produced in the leaves called anthocyanins,” environmental educator, Matt Giambra, told Eyewitness News.

Those anthocyanins make themselves present after a particularly cold couple of days. So, if you’re rooting for a prettier picture, you’re, in turn, rooting for a cold spurt.

Copyright 2019 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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