Your maple syrup will be darker this year and it's likely due to climate change

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Compared to previous years, the maple syrup that you typically drown your pancakes and waffles in might be darker this year due to the changing climate. Earlier this month, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration reported that a strong El Niño contributed to a winter that was 4.6 degrees higher than the 20th century's average temperature. This climate fluctuation has affected not only the period in which syrup producers are able to siphon sap from trees, but also the resulting product: a darker syrup more suitable for baking, instead of the lighter one you use as a condiment on your breakfast or in drinks.

Your Maple Syrup Will Be Darker This Year and It's Likely Due to Climate Change
Source: Giphy

George Cook, a maple and farm safety specialist from the University of Vermont Farm Extension, told Motherboard that many syrup makers are concerned. "They're obviously looking at what's happening globally and recognizing that if the trend of the northern part of [North America] continues so that it's getting warmer, the range of the land that is best for the growth of sugar maple trees is going to move north," Cook said. "If you don't have those freezing nights and thawing days for a period of four to six weeks or so the sap is not going to run. And if you don't get the weather you don't get the sap. We're extremely dependent on the right weather." Vermont is one of the largest producers of maple syrup.

Cook also noted that climate change has affected the resulting product. This warm winter has produced darker syrups typically used for baking due to its stronger maple flavor.

Your Maple Syrup Will Be Darker This Year and It's Likely Due to Climate Change
Source: Giphy

In general, the differing climate fluctuations has affected both how and where maple syrup producers can siphon tree sap. Daniel Houle, a researcher from Quebec's Ministry of Forests, Wildlife and Parks, told Motherboard that there is a distinction between regions where maple syrup production is possible and regions where maple trees simply grow. "Up north the climate is too cold for the maple trees to live, and in the south the trees may grow well but you don't have the weather that would allow you to collect the sap."

The ecological "footprint" of regions where maple syrup production is possible is shrinking due to climate change; according to Houle's research, production could decrease 15% by 2050, and 22% by 2090.

Related: Also see coverage from Russia's Pancake Week:

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Your maple syrup will be darker this year and it's likely due to climate change
ROSTOV-ON-DON, RUSSIA. MARCH 13, 2016. A girl eating blini (Russian pancakes) during Maslenitsa festival [Pancake Week]. The holiday celebrates the end of winter and marks the arrival of spring. Valery Matytsin/TASS (Photo by Valery Matytsin\TASS via Getty Images)
MOSCOW, RUSSIA. MARCH 13, 2016. Children playing with straw during Maslenitsa festival [Pancake Week]. The holiday celebrates the end of winter and marks the arrival of spring. Artyom Geodakyan/TASS (Photo by Artyom Geodakyan\TASS via Getty Images)
MOSCOW REGION, RUSSIA. MARCH 13, 2016. An effigy being burned during Maslenitsa festival [Russian Pancake Week] that celebrates the end of winter and marks the arrival of spring, near the Abramtsevo estate. Sergei Fadeichev/TASS (Photo by Sergei Fadeichev\TASS via Getty Images)
MOSCOW REGION, RUSSIA. MARCH 13, 2016. People attend Maslenitsa festival [Russian Pancake Week] that celebrates the end of winter and marks the arrival of spring near the Abramtsevo estate. Sergei Fadeichev/TASS (Photo by Sergei Fadeichev\TASS via Getty Images)
NOVOSIBIRSK, RUSSIA. MARCH 13, 2016. A woman with blini (Russian pancakes) during Maslenitsa festival [Pancake Week]. The holiday celebrates the end of winter and marks the arrival of spring. Kirill Kukhmar/TASS (Photo by Kirill Kukhmar\TASS via Getty Images)
KAZAN, RUSSIA. MARCH 12, 2016. A straw doll is burned in a bonfire during Maslenitsa festival [Pancake Week]. The holiday celebrates the end of winter and marks the arrival of spring. Yegor Aleyev/TASS (Photo by Yegor Aleyev\TASS via Getty Images)
ROSTOV-ON-DON, RUSSIA. MARCH 13, 2016. People attend Maslenitsa festival [Pancake Week]. The holiday celebrates the end of winter and marks the arrival of spring. Valery Matytsin/TASS (Photo by Valery Matytsin\TASS via Getty Images)
LENINGRAD REGION, RUSSIA. MARCH 13, 2016. People attend Maslenitsa festival [Pancake Week] in the village of Shuvalovka. The holiday celebrates the end of winter and marks the arrival of spring. Ruslan Shamukov/TASS (Photo by Ruslan Shamukov\TASS via Getty Images)
KAZAN, RUSSIA. MARCH 12, 2016. A girl attends Maslenitsa festival [Pancake Week]. The holiday celebrates the end of winter and marks the arrival of spring. Yegor Aleyev/TASS (Photo by Yegor Aleyev\TASS via Getty Images)
MOSCOW, RUSSIA. MARCH 13, 2016. People attend Maslenitsa festival [Pancake Week]. The holiday celebrates the end of winter and marks the arrival of spring. Artyom Geodakyan/TASS (Photo by Artyom Geodakyan\TASS via Getty Images)
RYAZAN, RUSSIA. MARCH 13, 2016. Blini (Russian pancakes) during Maslenitsa festival [Pancake Week]. The holiday celebrates the end of winter and marks the arrival of spring. Alexander Ryumin/TASS (Photo by Alexander Ryumin\TASS via Getty Images)
MOSCOW, RUSSIA. MARCH 13, 2016. People making a blin (Russian pancake) with a diameter of 3 metres during Maslenitsa festival [Pancake Week] in Moscow's Hermitage Garden. The holiday celebrates the end of winter and marks the arrival of spring. Nkolai Galkin/TASS (Photo by Nikolai Galkin\TASS via Getty Images)
MOSCOW, RUSSIA. MARCH 13, 2016. People making a blin (Russian pancake) with a diameter of 3 metres during Maslenitsa festival [Pancake Week] in Moscow's Hermitage Garden. The holiday celebrates the end of winter and marks the arrival of spring. Nkolai Galkin/TASS (Photo by Nikolai Galkin\TASS via Getty Images)
RYAZAN, RUSSIA. MARCH 13, 2016. A sack fight during Maslenitsa festival [Pancake Week]. The holiday celebrates the end of winter and marks the arrival of spring. Alexander Ryumin/TASS (Photo by Alexander Ryumin\TASS via Getty Images)
MOSCOW, RUSSIA. MARCH 13, 2016. People attend Maslenitsa festival [Pancake Week]. The holiday celebrates the end of winter and marks the arrival of spring. Artyom Geodakyan/TASS (Photo by Artyom Geodakyan\TASS via Getty Images)
KAZAN, RUSSIA. MARCH 12, 2016. People attend Maslenitsa festival [Pancake Week]. The holiday celebrates the end of winter and marks the arrival of spring. Yegor Aleyev/TASS (Photo by Yegor Aleyev\TASS via Getty Images)
A young man tries to climb atop a pole to get some souvenirs during celebrations of Maslenitsa, or Shrovetide in the Russian ancient city of Suzdal, some 200 km (124 miles) east of Moscow, Saturday, March 12, 2016. Maslenitsa is a traditional Russian holiday marking the end of winter that dates back to the pagan times. (AP Photo/Mikhail Chikin)
RYAZAN, RUSSIA. MARCH 13, 2016. Blini (Russian pancakes) during Maslenitsa festival [Pancake Week]. The holiday celebrates the end of winter and marks the arrival of spring. Alexander Ryumin/TASS (Photo by Alexander Ryumin\TASS via Getty Images)
OMSK, RUSSIA. MARCH 12, 2016. Children attend Maslenitsa festival [Pancake Week]. The holiday celebrates the end of winter and marks the arrival of spring. Dmitry Feoktistov/TASS (Photo by Dmitry Feoktistov\TASS via Getty Images)
People dressed in stylized ancient Russian costumes dance during celebrations of Maslenitsa, or Shrovetide in the Russian ancient city of Suzdal, some 200 km (124 miles) east of Moscow, Saturday, March 12, 2016. Maslenitsa is a traditional Russian holiday marking the end of winter that dates back to the pagan times. (AP Photo/Lyudmila Chikina)
RYAZAN, RUSSIA. MARCH 13, 2016. An effigy being burned during Maslenitsa festival [Pancake Week]. The holiday celebrates the end of winter and marks the arrival of spring. Alexander Ryumin/TASS (Photo by Alexander Ryumin\TASS via Getty Images)
People watch goose fighting during celebrations of Maslenitsa, or Shrovetide in the Russian ancient city of Suzdal, some 200 km (124 miles) east of Moscow, Saturday, March 12, 2016. Maslenitsa is a traditional Russian holiday marking the end of winter that dates back to the pagan times. (AP Photo/Mikhail Chikin)
People celebrate Maslenitsa, or Shrovetide in Moscow's Gorky Park, Russia, Sunday, March 13, 2016. Maslenitsa is a traditional Russian holiday marking the end of winter that dates back to pagan times. (AP Photo/Denis Strelkov)
People watch the burning symbol of spring, which looks like a brown bear getting out of his den, created by Hungarian artist Gabor Miklós Szoke for the festival in Gorky Park during a celebration of Maslenitsa, or Shrovetide in Moscow, Russia, Sunday, March 13, 2016, with the building of the National Defense Center of Russian Defense Ministry in the background. Maslenitsa is a traditional Russian holiday marking the end of winter that dates back to pagan times. (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko)
RYAZAN, RUSSIA. MARCH 13, 2016. A straw doll being burned during Maslenitsa festival [Pancake Week]. The holiday celebrates the end of winter and marks the arrival of spring. Alexander Ryumin/TASS (Photo by Alexander Ryumin\TASS via Getty Images)
MOSCOW, RUSSIA. MARCH 13, 2016. An effigy being burned in a bonfire during Maslenitsa festival [Pancake Week]. The holiday celebrates the end of winter and marks the arrival of spring. Artyom Geodakyan/TASS (Photo by Artyom Geodakyan\TASS via Getty Images)
ROSTOV-ON-DON, RUSSIA. MARCH 13, 2016. Making blini (Russian pancakes) during Maslenitsa festival [Pancake Week]. The holiday celebrates the end of winter and marks the arrival of spring. Valery Matytsin/TASS (Photo by Valery Matytsin\TASS via Getty Images)
NOVOSIBIRSK, RUSSIA. MARCH 13, 2016. People attend Maslenitsa festival [Pancake Week]. The holiday celebrates the end of winter and marks the arrival of spring. Kirill Kukhmar/TASS (Photo by Kirill Kukhmar\TASS via Getty Images)
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h/t Motherboard

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