EGU23-1433, updated on 22 Feb 2023
EGU General Assembly 2023
© Author(s) 2023. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Global warming is increasing the discrepancy between green (actual) and thermal (potential) seasons of temperate trees

Yongshuo H. Fu and Shouzhi Chen
Yongshuo H. Fu and Shouzhi Chen
  • Beijing Normal University, college of water science, China (

Over the past decades, global warming has led to a lengthening of the time window during which temperatures remain favorable for carbon assimilation and tree growth, resulting in a lengthening of the green season. The extent to which forest green seasons have tracked the lengthening of this favorable period under climate warming, however, has not been quantified to date. Here, we used remote sensing data and long-term ground observations of leaf-out and coloration for six dominant species of European trees at 1773 sites, for a total of 6060 species-site combinations, during 1980-2016 and found that actual green season extensions (GS: 3.1 ± 0.1 d decade-1) lag four times behind extensions of the potential thermal season (TS: 12.6 ± 0.1 d decade-1). Similar but less pronounced differences were obtained using satellite-derived vegetation phenology observations, i.e., a lengthening of 4.4 ± 0.13 d decade-1 and 7.5 ± 0.13 d decade-1 for GS and TS, respectively. This difference was mainly driven by the larger advance in the onset of the thermal season compared to the actual advance of leaf-out dates (spring mismatch: 7.2 ± 0.1 d decade-1), but to a less extents caused by a phenological mismatch between GS and TS in autumn (2.4 ± 0.1 d decade-1). Our results showed that forest trees do not linearly track the new thermal window extension, indicating more complex interactions between winter and spring temperatures and photoperiod and a justification of demonstrating that using more sophisticated models that include the influence of chilling and photoperiod are needed to accurately predict spring phenological changes under warmer climate. They urge caution if such mechanisms are omitted to predict, for example, how vegetative health and growth, species distribution, and crop yields will change in the future.

How to cite: Fu, Y. H. and Chen, S.: Global warming is increasing the discrepancy between green (actual) and thermal (potential) seasons of temperate trees, EGU General Assembly 2023, Vienna, Austria, 24–28 Apr 2023, EGU23-1433,, 2023.