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New satellite-based estimates show significant trends in spring phenology and complex sensitivities to temperature and precipitation at northern European latitudes

  • Hongxiao Jin
  • Anna Maria Jönsson
  • Cecilia Olsson
  • Johan Lindström
  • Per Jönsson
  • Lars Eklundh
Publishing year: 2019-02-25
Language: English
Pages: 763-775
Publication/Series: International Journal of Biometeorology
Volume: 63
Issue: 6
Document type: Journal article
Publisher: Springer

Abstract english

Recent climate warming has altered plant phenology at northern European latitudes, but conclusions regarding the spatial patterns of phenological change and relationships with climate are still challenging as quantitative estimates are strongly diverging. To generate consistent estimates of broad-scale spatially continuous spring plant phenology at northern European latitudes (> 50° N) from 2000 to 2016, we used a novel vegetation index, the plant phenology index (PPI), derived from MODerate-resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) data. To obtain realistic and strong estimates, the phenology trends and their relationships with temperature and precipitation over the past 17 years were analyzed using a panel data method. We found that in the studied region the start of the growing season (SOS) has on average advanced by 0.30 day year
. The SOS showed an overall advancement rate of 2.47 day °C
to spring warming, and 0.18 day cm
to decreasing precipitation in spring. The previous winter and summer temperature had important effects on the SOS but were spatially heterogeneous. Overall, the onset of SOS was delayed 0.66 day °C
by winter warming and 0.56 day °C
by preceding summer warming. The precipitation in winter and summer influenced the SOS in a relatively weak and complex manner. The findings indicate rapid recent phenological changes driven by combined seasonal climates in northern Europe. Previously unknown spatial patterns of phenological change and relationships with climate drivers are presented that improve our capacity to understand and foresee future climate effects on vegetation.


  • Ecology
  • Physical Geography
  • Climate sensitivity
  • Northern European latitudes
  • Plant phenology index (PPI)
  • Remote sensing
  • Spring phenology trend


  • ISSN: 0020-7128
E-mail: lars [dot] eklundh [at] nateko [dot] lu [dot] se


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Dept of Physical Geography and Ecosystem Science


Department of Physical Geography and Ecosystem Science
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