In early April of 2007, Nebraska, Maryland, South Carolina, and Texas experienced unusual weather. Two weeks of warmth was followed by a sudden freeze. The cold snap killed the new leaves, flowers, and shoots that had just emerged.
According to an article published in this month's issue of BioScience, the damage from out of season frost and warm weather not only results in the dieback of new growth, but could also alter the carbon balance of the region. The damaged tissue can't be reabsorbed, and the lack of growth results in an altered nutrient cycle for the region. The authors also suggest that the rising carbon dioxide level in the atmosphere itself can actually reduce the ability of some plants to withstand frost damage in the first place.
The authors suggest this type of event should not be viewed as an isolated incident, but a realistic aspect of climate change for the near future.