Fall colors in full bloom

News Photo by Justin A. Hinkley Fall colors are on display along the Thunder Bay River off Long Rapids Road last week in Alpena.

A simple scientific process makes for a beautiful artistic display.

According to the Smithsonian Institution, the change from lush green to dramatic oranges, browns, and yellows happens because of shorter, colder days seen in the fall.

During spring and summer, the trees use chlorophyll to convert the energy from sunlight into sugars that feed the tree.

The changing weather means less sunlight, and that causes the chlorophyll to break down.

Chlorophyll is also linked to the green coloring of the warmer months. As the chemical breaks down, existing pigments in the leaves are revealed as the autumnal shades of yellow and orange.

News Photo by Justin A. Hinkley Multicolored leaves litter the ground last week at Evergreen Cemetery in Alpena.

Darker red leaves — especially prominent on dogwoods and oaks — happen because sugars get trapped in the leaves, creating new pigments called anthocyanins.

Trees’ leaves would make the trees more vulnerable to the harsh cold of winter.

So trees suck as many nutrients as possible from the leaves and then create a protective barrier between the tree and the leaf.

When that barrier is complete, the leaves are cut off from the fluid in the tree and fall off to the ground, according to the Smithsonian.

News Photo by Justin A. Hinkley Orange and yellow leaves hang over a roadway at Evergreen Cemetery in Alpena last week, creating a tunnel of autumnal color.

News Photo by Justin A. Hinkley Dark orange leaves fill up the scenery at Holy Cross Cemetery in Alpena last week.

News Photo by Justin A. Hinkley Two trees snake around each other up to a beautiful display of fall color on the Norway Ridge Pathway last week near Alpena.

News Photo by Justin A. Hinkley Autumnal colors fill up the sky on the Norway Ridge Pathway last week near Alpena.


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