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You are here: Home / Data and maps / Indicators / Plant and fungi phenology

Plant and fungi phenology

This is the latest published version. See older versions.
08 Sep 2008 - Plant phenology
Contents
 

Assessment versions

Published (reviewed and quality assured)

Justification for indicator selection

Phenology is the timing of seasonal events such as budburst, flowering, dormancy, migration and hibernation. Some phenological responses are triggered by mean temperature, while others are more responsive to day length or weather extremes. Changes in phenology affect the growing season and thus ecosystem functioning and productivity. Changes in phenology are impacting farming, forestry, gardening and wildlife. The timing of tilling, sowing and harvesting is changing, fruit is ripening earlier due to warmer summer temperatures, and grass in municipal parks and on road verges requires more frequent cutting over a longer period. Changes in flowering have implications for the timing and intensity of the pollen season and related health effects. The pollen season is advancing as many species start to flower earlier, and the concentration of pollen in the air is increasing. The increasing trend in the yearly amount of airborne pollen for many taxa is more pronounced in urban than semi-natural areas across the continent.

Scientific references:

Indicator definition

  • Trends in spring phenology

Units

  • days/year

Policy context and targets

Context description

In April 2013 the European Commission presented the EU Adaptation Strategy Package (http://ec.europa.eu/clima/policies/adaptation/what/documentation_en.htm). This package consists of the EU Strategy on adaptation to climate change /* COM/2013/0216 final */ and a number of supporting documents. One of the objectives of the EU Adaptation Strategy is Better informed decision-making, which should occur through Bridging the knowledge gap and Further developing Climate-ADAPT as the ‘one-stop shop’ for adaptation information in Europe. Further objectives include Promoting action by Member States and Climate-proofing EU action: promoting adaptation in key vulnerable sectors. Many EU Member States have already taken action, such as by adopting national adaptation strategies, and several have also prepared action plans on climate change adaptation.

The European Commission and the European Environment Agency have developed the European Climate Adaptation Platform (Climate-ADAPT, http://climate-adapt.eea.europa.eu/) to share knowledge on observed and projected climate change and its impacts on environmental and social systems and on human health; on relevant research; on EU, national and subnational adaptation strategies and plans; and on adaptation case studies.

Targets

No targets have been specified.

Related policy documents

  • Climate-ADAPT: Mainstreaming adaptation in EU sector policies
    Overview of EU sector policies in which mainstreaming of adaptation to climate change is ongoing or explored
  • Climate-ADAPT: National adaptation strategies
    Overview of activities of EEA member countries in preparing, developing and implementing adaptation strategies
  • DG CLIMA: Adaptation to climate change
    Adaptation means anticipating the adverse effects of climate change and taking appropriate action to prevent or minimise the damage they can cause, or taking advantage of opportunities that may arise. It has been shown that well planned, early adaptation action saves money and lives later. This webportal provides information on all adaptation activities of the European Commission.
  • EU Adaptation Strategy Package
    In April 2013 the European Commission adopted an EU strategy on adaptation to climate change which has been welcomed by the EU Member States. The strategy aims to make Europe more climate-resilient. By taking a coherent approach and providing for improved coordination, it will enhance the preparedness and capacity of all governance levels to respond to the impacts of climate change.

Key policy question

How is climate change affecting the seasonal cycle of plants and fungi in Europe?

Methodology

Methodology for indicator calculation

A phenological dataset collected during the COST 725 Action ‘Establishing a European phenological data platform for climatological applications’ was analysed, which contained more than 36000 phenological time series for Europe covering 1971–2000.

Methodology for gap filling

Not applicable

Methodology references

Data specifications

EEA data references

  • No datasets have been specified here.

External data references

Data sources in latest figures

Uncertainties

Methodology uncertainty

Not applicable

Data sets uncertainty

Generally, observations for popular groups such as vascular plants, birds, other terrestrial vertebrates and butterflies are much better than for less conspicuous and less popular species. Similarly, due to extensive existing networks, a long tradition and better means of detection and rapid responses of the organisms to changes, knowledge on phenological changes are better observed and recorded than range shifts. Projections of climate change impacts on phenology rely crucially on the understanding of current processes and responses. For most cases, only a few years of data are available and do not cover the entire area of the EU but are restricted to certain well monitored countries with a long tradition in the involvement of citizen scientists. Based on these short time series, the determination of impacts and their interpretation thus has to rely on assumptions, and achieving a qualitative understanding of species’ responses is more robust than their quantification. One of the greatest unknowns is how quickly and closely species will alter their phenology in accordance to a changing climatic regime. Even experimental studies seem to be of little help, since they notoriously tend to underestimate the effects of climate change on changes in phenology.

Further information on uncertainties is provided in Section 1.7 of the EEA report on Climate change, impacts, and vulnerability in Europe 2012 (http://www.eea.europa.eu/publications/climate-impacts-and-vulnerability-2012/)

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

Ownership

European Environment Agency (EEA)

Identification

Indicator code
CLIM 023
Specification
Version id: 2
Primary theme: Climate change Climate change

Permalinks

Permalink to this version
e9630d9479da43aba0a938313255933a
Permalink to latest version
08TDB573B2

Frequency of updates

Updates are scheduled every 4 years in October-December (Q4)

Classification

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

Related content

Data references used

European phenological data platform for climatological applications European phenological data platform for climatological applications COST action 725 ‘Establishing a European phenological data platform for climatological applications’ comprising all phenological records digitally available at present. It included entire phenological networks of 11 countries (Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Estonia, Germany, Latvia, Poland, Slovakia, Slovenia, Switzerland, Russia (provided by the 5FP project POSITIVE)), five specialists networks (Finland, Spain, the Netherlands, Norway, United Kingdom) and the network of the International Phenological Gardens in Europe (http://www.agrar.huberlin. de/pflanzenbau/agrarmet/ipg_en.html), spreading over 14 countries including, in addition to countries named above, Croatia, Denmark, Greece, Ireland and Macedonia. In total, phenological trends of 542 plant species in 21 countries (125 628 time series) and 19 animal species in three countries (301 time series) were analysed. The phenophases of wild plants, fruit trees and agricultural crops were assigned to a BBCH (Biologische Bundesanstalt, Bundessortenamt and CHemical Industry) code (Meier, 1997) and grouped either by BBCH code or BBCH subgroups (principal growth stages). If applicable, agricultural and natural phases were treated separately. Annual mean onset dates for nine countries (Austria, Belarus/northern Russia, Estonia, Czech Republic,Germany, Poland, Slovenia, Switzerland, Ukraine/southern Russia), comprising 254 records (phenophases countries) of 101 years, however, mostly covering the total period 1951–1999, were available for the quantitative assessment of temperature responses.  

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