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Spring phenology in boreal Eurasia over a nearly century time scale

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It has been widely reported that tree leaves have tended to appear earlier in many regions of the northern hemisphere in the last few decades, reflecting climate warming. Satellite observations revealed an 8-day advance in leaf appearance date between 1982 and 1991 in northern latitudes. In situ observations show that leaf appearance dates in Europe have advanced by an average of 6.3 days from 1959 to 1996. Modelling of leaf appearance on the basis of temperature also shows a marked advance in temperate and boreal regions from 1955 to 2002. However, before 1955, reported studies of phenological variations are restricted to local scale. Modelling, ground observations and satellite observations are here combined to analyse phenological variations in Eurasian taiga over nearly a century. The trend observed by remote sensing consists mainly in a shift at the end of the 1980s, reflecting a shift in winter and spring temperature. In western boreal Eurasia, a trend to earlier leaf appearance is evident since the mid-1930s, although it is discontinuous. In contrast, the strong advance in leaf appearance detected over Central Siberia using satellite data in 1982–1991 is strengthened by late springs in 1983–1984; moreover, in this region the green-up timing has displayed successive trends with opposite signs since 1920. Thus, such strong trend is not unusual if considered locally. However, the recent advance is unique in simultaneously affecting most of the Eurasian taiga, the leaf appearance dates after 1990 being the earliest in nearly a century in most of the area.

Keywords: Eurasia; NDVI; Russia; boreal; climatic change; in situ; leaf appearance; modelling; phenology; remote sensing; spring; taiga; time series; trend

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: Ecosystem Change Research Program, JAMSTEC Frontier Research Center for Global Change, 3173-25 Showa machi, Kanazawa-ku, Yokohama, Kanagawa 236-0001, Japan, 2: Centre d'Etudes Spatiales de la Biophère, CNRS/IRD/CNES/UPS, 18 avenue Edouard Belin, bpi 2801, 31401 Toulouse cedex 9, France, 3: Centre for Terrestrial Carbon Dynamics, Sheffield Centre for Earth Observation Science, University of Sheffield, Hicks Building, Hounsfield Road, Sheffield S3 7RH, UK, 4: Department Animal & Plant Sciences, University of Sheffield, Sheffield S10 2TN, UK, 5: Komarov Institute of Botany, Saint Petersburg, Russia

Publication date: 2008-03-01

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