Phenology

27.10.04

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Phenology is generally described as the art of observing life cycle phases or activities of plants and animals in their temporal occurrence throughout the year (Lieth 1974). The onset of phenological phases is very closely related to climate. Thus, global change has impacts on phenology and related fields. In this context, phenology has gained new importance as a bio-indicator for climate change or as a proxy for temperatures. The value of phenology ranges from ground truth for satellites, education and public awareness, bio-indicator allowing compelling observations of climate change impacts and their cautious extrapolation, to processes in vegetation-climate feedback.

Below, there are some prominent examples out of my publications.

A 500 year pheno-climatological view on the 2003 heatwave in Europe assessed by grape harvest dates - In 2003, Europe was affected by a record-breaking heatwave in summer, which is statistically extremely unlikely. However, there are indications that comparably anomalous warm summers might have occurred in the more distant historical past, for instance in 1540. Dates of grape harvesting in Western Europe, starting in 1484, allow a concise assessment of growing season temperatures. The maturity of grapes strongly depends on growing season temperatures, and 84% of the year-to-year variability is explained by April to August temperature. When reconstructing the growing season temperatures by these historical grape harvest dates, the heatwave of 2003 stands out as an extreme, not only for the instrumental period, but also during the preceding 500 years.
Menzel A  A 500 year pheno-climatological view on the 2003 heatwave in Europe assessed by grape harvest dates (in press Meteorol Z)

 

after Menzel A, (in press) 

A 500 year pheno-climatological view on the 2003 heatwave in Europe assessed by grape harvest dates ( Meteorol Z)

Cherry flowering at the Royal Court at Kyoto - Phenology has taken on a new importance since its value as one the oldest written biological record has been recognised. This links the oldest records, observations of cherry flowering at the Royal Court in Kyoto dating back to 705 AC, to the most recent Kyoto Protocol efforts.
Phenology, its importance to the Global Change Community, Climatic Change 2002

 

after Menzel A, Dose V (2004) Analysis of long-term time-series of beginning of flowering by Bayesian function estimation (submittel to Meteorol Z)

Phenology as air temperature proxy - In temperate zones the timing of spring phenological phases is mainly regulated by temperature: chilling temperatures break winter dormancy and subsequent warm temperatures induce budburst. Thus, the phenological onset of spring correlates very well with air temperature of the preceding months. In addition, the North Atlantic Oscillation index has been shown to explain up to 50 % of the interannual variability of the length of the growing season in Germany.
Phenological anomalies in Germany and their relation to air temperature and NAO, Climatic Change 2003
 
 
Ecological responses to recent climate change -Phenology as the timing of seasonal activities of animals and plants is perhaps the simplest process in which to track changes in the ecology of species in response to climate change. Changes in the timing of spring activities include earlier shooting and flowering of plants, earlier breeding or first singing of birds, earlier arrival of migrant birds, earlier appearance of butterflies, ..
Ecological responses to recent climate change, Nature 2002

 

after WaltherGR, Post E, Convey P, Menzel A, Parmesan C, Beebee TJC, Fromentin JM, Hoegh-Guldberg O & Bairlein F (2002) Ecological responses to recent climate change. Nature 416, 389-395.

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