Published (reviewed and quality assured)
Justification for indicator selection
Phenology is the study of changes in the timing of seasonal events such as budburst, flowering, dormancy, migration and hibernation. Some phenological responses are triggered principally by temperature, while others are more responsive to day length (Menzel et al., 2006). Changes in phenology are linked with the growing season and affect ecosystem functioning and productivity. Farming, forestry and gardening, as well as wildlife, are affected. The timing of tilling, sowing and harvesting is changing, fruit is ripening earlier due to warmer summers (Menzel et al., 2006), and grass in municipal parks and on road verges requires cutting more frequently and for longer.
Changes in flowering have implications for the timing and intensity of the pollen season; this is showing an advancing trend as many species start to flower earlier. Allied to this, the concentration of pollen in the air is increasing (Nordic Council, 2005).
- References DEFRA, 2007. Conserving biodiversity in a changing climate: guidance on building capacity to adapt. DEFRA, UK. Fitter, A. H. and Fitter, R. S. R., 2002. Rapid Changes in Flowering Time in British Plants. Science 296: 1689-1691. Høye, T. T.; Post, E.; Meltofte, H.; Schmidt, N. M. and Forchhammer, M. C., 2007. Rapid advancement of spring in the high Arctic. Current Biology 17 (12): 449-451. Menzel, A.; Sparks, T. H.; Estrella, N.; Koch, E.; Aasa, A.; Ahas, R.; Alm-Kübler, K.; Bissolli, P.; Braslavská, O.; Briede, A.; Chmielewski, F. M.; Crepinsek, Z.; Curnel, Y.; Dahl, Å.; Defila, C.; Donelly, A.; Filella, I.; Jatczak, K.; Måge, F.; Mestre, A.; Nordli, Ø.; Peñuela, J.; Pirinen, P.; Remišová, V.; Scheinfinger, H.; Stríž, M.; Susnik, A.; Van Vliet, A. J. H.; Wiegolaski, F.-E.; Zach, S.; Zust, A., 2006. European phenological response to climate change matches the warming pattern. Global Change Biology 12: 1969-1976. Nature's Calendar, UK. www.naturescalendar.org.uk/climate+change/past.htm . Nordic Council, 2005. Conservation of Nordic Nature in a Changing Climate. Nordic Council of Ministers, Copenhagen. Parmesan, C. and Yohe, G., 2003. A globally coherent fingerprint of climate change impacts across natural systems. Nature 421: 37-42. Root, T. L.; Price, J. T.; Hall, K. R., Schneider, S. H.; Rosenzweig, C.; Pounds, J. A., 2003. Fingerprints of global warming on wild animals and plants. Nature 421: 57-60.
- Phenological sensitivity to temperature changes
- Oak (Quercus sp) leafing date in Surrey (United Kingdom) 1950-2008
Policy context and targets
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: http://ec.europa.eu/environment/climat/adaptation/index_en.htm
No targets have been specified
Related policy documents
No related policy documents have been specified
Key policy question
Methodology for indicator calculation
Methodology for gap filling
No methodology references available.
EEA data references
- No datasets have been specified here.
External data references
Data sources in latest figures
Data sets uncertainty
No uncertainty has been specified
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.
Responsibility and ownership
EEA Contact InfoHans-Martin Füssel
Typology: Descriptive indicator (Type A - What is happening to the environment and to humans?)
For references, please go to www.eea.europa.eu/soer or scan the QR code.
This briefing is part of the EEA's report The European Environment - State and Outlook 2015. The EEA is an official agency of the EU, tasked with providing information on Europe’s environment.
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