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European plant phenology and climate as seen in a 20-year AVHRR land-surface parameter dataset

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Vegetation distribution and state have been measured since 1981 by the AVHRR (Advanced Very High Resolution Radiometer) instrument through satellite remote sensing. In this study a correction method is applied to the Pathfinder NDVI (Normalized Difference Vegetation Index) data to create a continuous European vegetation phenology dataset of a 10-day temporal and 0.1° spatial resolution; additionally, land surface parameters for use in biosphere-atmosphere modelling are derived. The analysis of time-series from this dataset reveals, for the years 1982-2001, strong seasonal and interannual variability in European land surface vegetation state. Phenological metrics indicate a late and short growing season for the years 1985-1987, in addition to early and prolonged activity in the years 1989, 1990, 1994 and 1995. These variations are in close agreement with findings from phenological measurements at the surface; spring phenology is also shown to correlate particularly well with anomalies in winter temperature and winter North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO) index. Nevertheless, phenological metrics, which display considerable regional differences, could only be determined for vegetation with a seasonal behaviour. Trends in the phenological phases reveal a general shift to earlier (−0.54 days year−1) and prolonged (0.96 days year−1) growing periods which are statistically significant, especially for central Europe.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Institute for Atmospheric and Climate Science ETH, Winterthurerstrasse 190 8057 Zurich Switzerland

Publication date: 01 September 2004

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