Science With Sabrina: Why Leaves Change Color

There is no doubt we are feeling the cooler, fall weather this week. One of the best things that comes with the changing season is the colorful fall leaves! Meteorologist Sabrina Bates breaks down why this happens in this week’s Science With Sabrina.

The science behind the fall foliage begins at the microscopic level in the leaf.  The mixture of all of the reds, oranges, and purples are from a chemical process that happens when the seasons change.


Leaves have chlorophyll, which gives them their green color. But, there's also yellow to orange pigments, such as carotene and xanthophyll. For most of the year, these vivid colors are masked by the green. Let's fast forward to fall.

The northern hemisphere begins to tilt away from the sun. We receive less sunlight, the days become shorter, and the temperatures drop. These changes cause the chlorophyll in leaves to break down. The green color disappears. And, the vibrant colors become visible.


The leaves will likely peak in Northwest Arkansas and Mount Magazine this upcoming weekend. If you want to go leaf peeping in the River Valley, the colors should peak November 9th-15th.

And, of course our weather can change that. We need the winds to stay calm so the leaves aren’t blown off of the trees.

Some of the best local scenic trails to drive along this fall include the Pig Trail, Talimena Drive, and the Mount Magazine Scenic Byway.

Segment Sponsored By: Sylvan Learning


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