EGU General Assembly 2021
© Author(s) 2021. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Phenology studies need to account for tissue temperature, not air

Marc Peaucelle1, Josep Peñuelas2,3, and Hans Verbeeck1
Marc Peaucelle et al.
  • 1Ghent university, Campus Coupure, Bat. A, Environment, Ghent, Belgium (
  • 2CSIC, Global Ecology Unit CREAF-CSIC-UAB, 08193 Bellaterra, Catalonia, Spain
  • 3CREAF, 08193 Cerdanyola del Vallès, Catalonia, Spain

Plant phenology is mainly driven by temperature in extratropical ecosystems. Contrasting responses of foliar phenology to climatic warming, however, have been reported in recent decades, raising important questions about the role of other environmental constraints, especially light. A striking and common aspect to past phenological studies is that all analyses have been solely based on air temperature. In fact, temperatures differ substantially between plant tissues and the air, because plants absorb and radiate energy. Using a simple model of bud energy balance, we explore how using bud instead of air temperature could change our interpretation of the phenological response to warming and explain several observed responses of phenology to temperature and light. Not accounting for the real temperature of plant tissues represents a real gap in phenology studies. Field observations of plant tissues temperature as well as experiments are needed for accurately assessing the response of vegetation to climate change.

How to cite: Peaucelle, M., Peñuelas, J., and Verbeeck, H.: Phenology studies need to account for tissue temperature, not air, EGU General Assembly 2021, online, 19–30 Apr 2021, EGU21-5,, 2020.

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