Speed Reading — Autumn Leaves - Level 5 — 200 wpm

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The changing colours of autumn leaves is a spectacular natural event in forests worldwide. The golds, reds, yellows, greens and browns are a colourful canvas that sees in the end of summer. This year in the USA, the foliage has been affected by drought conditions. This has dulled the vibrant colours of the leaves. Over 80 per cent of America's northwest has had weather not conducive to perfect foliage. The traditional autumnal beauty spots of Massachusetts, Maine, Rhode Island and New Hampshire are experiencing drought and lacklustre colours.

A forest and ecology professor at the University of Vermont explained why this year has been so bad. He said it was a combination of factors, including good tree growth, mild drought, warm days and cool nights over the last month. He added that the colours came two weeks earlier than normal, "and will probably go by fast and furiously". He said the drought creates "physiological stress for the trees". He warned: "The stress is not a good thing and may be a harbinger of things to come with climate change. In terms of fall foliage, drought can cause the leaves to die."

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