We are pleased to announce a new international prediction competition, “When will the cherry trees bloom?” Compete for prizes of up to $5,000 and help scientists better understand the impacts of climate change!

The competition is open to all.

The competition organizers will provide all the publicly available data on the bloom date of cherry trees they can find. Competitors will use this data, in combination with any other publicly available data, to create reproducible predictions of the bloom dates at four locations around the globe.

The competition is open throughout February 2022 and seeks statisticians and data scientists of all levels, from experts to students just beginning to use statistical software. Complete submissions include a short narrative and a link to a publicly accessible Git repository.

For complete details or to contact the organizers, please visit https://competition.statistics.gmu.edu. A recording of the kickoff event will be made available on the competition website.

A big thanks to RStudio, the American Statistical Association, Caucus for Women in Statistics, George Mason University’s Department of Statistics, and Columbia University’s Department of Statistics for their support, and partnerships with the International Society of Biometeorology, MeteoSwiss, USA National Phenology Network, and the Vancouver Cherry Blossom Festival—as well as Mason’s Institute for Digital InnovAtion, Institute for a Sustainable Earth, and the Department of Modern and Classical Languages. Sponsors and partners will be updated on the website.

Organizers: Jonathan Auerbach and David Kepplinger (George Mason University) and Elizabeth Wolkovich (University of British Columbia)


The competition has now closed for 2022. Over eighty contestants across four continents formed forty-one teams to take up the challenge to build statistical models that produce accurate and interpretable predictions. The winners will be announced in early May.

EDIT: 31 March 2022

Thanks to Wendy Cutler, VCBF Cherry Scout Co-ordinator, for correcting the image (this photo, which originally appeared with this story, is a PLUM not a cherry!)