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Professor Tim Entwisle, a man for all seasons, adds a 'sprummer' to the mix

Autumn should begin on Tuesday.

Well, that's according to one of the country's leading botanists.

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Professor proposes seasonal shake-up

Australia's climate doesn't match the European system of four seasons and should be bumped up to five, says director of the Royal Botanic Gardens Tim Entwisle.

Professor Tim Entwisle, Royal Botanic Gardens director, will release a book Sprinter and Sprummer: Australia's changing seasons in September, that will argue there should be five seasons and these should include two springs.

Based on his theory summer would be four months long, and the other seasons two months each.

So up until Monday, it was still summer - that would explain the temperatures of 31 degrees predicted for Monday and Tuesday. In March days over 30 degrees are still fairly common, the Bureau of Meteorology's senior forecaster Terry Ryan says, but in April they are scarcer.

Professor Entwisle's theory has autumn running from April 1 to May 31 and winter from June 1 to July 30. August 1 would signal the beginning of ''sprinter'', an early spring noted for the arrival of wattle and spring wildflowers. ''Sprinter'' would end when ''sprummer'' arrived on October 1 as a second spring when the jacaranda trees bloom. Summer would begin on December 1.


Professor Entwisle said the climate change discussion about ''spring creep'' was difficult in Australia because we based our seasons on the British model.

''Climate change will have an impact on seasons but we should get our seasons lined up with the country we live in,'' he said. ''We already see spring coming earlier and with climate change we might see further changes,'' he said.

In the United States seasons are based on shifting sunlight rather than temperature, but even this could vary by regions. Australia follows the British model and Asian countries were different again with some parts of China having a dozen seasons, he said.

Professor Entwisle's research found as many as seven seasons for indigenous peoples in different regions of Australia, all starting at different times based on local weather, plant and animal life. He found only one indigenous group who had four seasons, and that was 180 kilometres west of Katherine in the Northern Territory.

The Grampians’ Brambuk National Park and Cultural Centre has a display on the six seasons for the Gariwerd, the indigenous name for the region. They take into account butterfly, bird and eel arrivals, wildflower blooms and weather factors such as extreme bushfire seasons, and include "chinnup" (season of cockatoos) in winter, and "ballambar" (season of butterflies) in early summer.

Professor Entwisle hoped the book would have gardening and weather enthusiasts making observations to give more clarity to the seasons. He believes there could be as many as 11 seasons, but that would be ‘‘impractical’’.

The book is due to be published by CSIRO Publishing on September 1, in time for the beginning of spring, or is that the middle of sprinter?


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