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Global warming is marmot wake-up call

If Punxsutawney Phil lived in Colorado instead of Pennsylvania, the groundhog weather predictor might need to forecast an early spring every year.

Yellow-bellied marmots (also known as groundhogs or woodchucks) are now emerging from their 8-to-9-month hibernations 38 days earlier than they did 23 years ago, according to a long-term study by scientists working at the Rocky Mountain Biological Laboratory in Crested Butte, Colo.

Global warming may be cutting short the marmots' long winter naps, says David W. Inouye, a biologist at the University of Maryland, College Park. The warmer the temperatures, the earlier the marmots' appearance.

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