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Growing season for agricultural crops

Indicator Specification Created 11 Jul 2008 Published 08 Sep 2008 Last modified 04 Sep 2015, 06:59 PM
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Topics: ,
Indicator codes: CLIM 030

Update planned for November 2012

Assessment versions

Published (reviewed and quality assured)


Justification for indicator selection

Increasing air temperatures are significantly affecting the duration of the growing season over large areas of Europe (Scheifinger et al., 2003). The number of consecutive days with temperatures above 0 oC can be assumed to be the period favourable for growth. The timing and length of this frost-free period is of interest to naturalists, farmers and gardeners among others. The impact on plants and animals is reported mainly as a clear trend towards an earlier start of growth in spring and its prolongation into autumn (Menzel and Fabian, 1999). A longer growing season allows the proliferation of species that have optimal conditions for development and an increase in their productivity (e.g. crop yields, insect population), and the introduction of new species (very sensitive to frost) in areas previously limited by unfavourable thermal conditions. Changes in management practices, e.g. changes in the species grown, different varieties, or adaptations of the crop calendar, can counteract the negative effects of a changing growing season (pests) and capture the benefits (agricultural crops).

Scientific references

  • No rationale references available

Indicator definition

  • Rate of change of crop growing season length 1975-2007
  • Length of frost-free period in selected European areas 1975-2007


Policy context and targets

Context description

In April 2009 the European Commission presented a White Paper on the framework for adaptation policies and measures to reduce the European Union's vulnerability to the impacts of climate change. The aim is to increase the resilience to climate change of health, property and the productive functions of land, inter alia by improving the management of water resources and ecosystems. More knowledge is needed on climate impact and vulnerability but a considerable amount of information and research already exists which can be shared better through a proposed Clearing House Mechanism. The White Paper stresses the need to mainstream adaptation into existing and new EU policies. A number of Member States have already taken action and several have prepared national adaptation plans. The EU is also developing actions to enhance and finance adaptation in developing countries as part of a new post-2012 global climate agreement expected in Copenhagen (Dec. 2009). For more information see:


No targets have been specified

Related policy documents

No related policy documents have been specified

Data specifications

EEA data references

  • No datasets have been specified here.

Data sources in latest figures


Methodology uncertainty

Data sets uncertainty

Rationale uncertainty

No uncertainty has been specified

Further work

Short term work

Work specified here requires to be completed within 1 year from now.

Long term work

Work specified here will require more than 1 year (from now) to be completed.

General metadata

Responsibility and ownership

EEA Contact Info

Hans-Martin Füssel


European Environment Agency (EEA)


Indicator code
CLIM 030
Version id: 1
Primary theme: Climate change Climate change


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DPSIR: Impact
Typology: Descriptive indicator (Type A - What is happening to the environment and to humans?)
European Environment Agency (EEA)
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