Why do leaves change colors? Here's the science behind fall's beauty

FLINT (WJRT) Fall is one of the most beautiful times of year in Michigan with leaves changing colors.

Photo courtesy: MGN

Here's the science behind how green leaves take on their yellow, red and brown hues as the days get shorter and the weather gets colder.

First, trees produce chlorophyll to absorb the sunlight. They then use that energy to turn carbon dioxide and water into food. When the days shorten, the green color in the leaves disappears.

Warm days and cool nights produces colorful leaves:

-- Red leaves are due to anthocyanins. It only occurs under certain conditions from certain trees when we have increased sugar levels.

-- Yellow leaves are more common due to the presence of carotenoids. They are always there, but hidden by the chlorophyll. They're not affected by changing weather patterns and stay pretty constant each year.

-- Brown leaves are filled with the tree's waste and only visible when the chlorophyll and carotenoids are gone.

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