Published (reviewed and quality assured)
Justification for indicator selection
Changes in crop phenology provide important evidence of responses to recent regional climate change. Although phenological changes are often influenced by management practices, in particular sowing date and choice of cultivar, recent warming in Europe has clearly advanced a significant part of the agricultural calendar. Specific stages of growth (e.g. flowering, grain filling) are particularly sensitive to weather conditions and critical for final yield. The timing of the crop cycle (agrophenology) determines the productive success of the crop. In general, a longer crop cycle is strongly correlated with higher yields, since a longer cycle permits better use of the available thermal energy, solar radiation and water resources.
- IPCC, 2007. Climate Change 2007: Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability. Contribution of Working Group II to the Fourth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, 2007; M.L. Parry, O.F. Canziani, J.P. Palutikof, P.J. van der Linden and C.E. Hanson (eds); Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, United Kingdom and New York, NY, USA.
- Observed change in flowering date for winter wheat
- Projected change in dates of flowering and maturation for winter wheat
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 White Paper stresses the need to improve the knowledge base and to mainstream adaptation into existing and new EU policies. The European Commission will be publishing an EU Adaptation Strategy in 2013. A number of Member States have already taken action, and several have prepared national adaptation plans.
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.
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 Climate Action: What is the EU doing about climate change?
Activities of the EU regarding climate change (both mitigation and adaptation)
White paper - Adapting to climate change: towards a European framework for action
EU framework for adaptation to climate change, leading to a comprehensive EU adaptation strategy by 2013
Key policy question
How is climate change affecting the seasonal cycle of agricultural crops across Europe?
Methodology for indicator calculation
A map has been produced querying a database internal to Joint Research Centre (JRC) containing crop growth data derived with the WOFOST model (Van Keulen H, Wolf J (1986) Modelling of agricultural production: weather soils and crops,Simulation monographs. Pudoc, Wageningen) These data are derived in the frame of the MARSOP 3 contract, complying with Council Regulation (EC) No 78/2008 of 21 January 2008 on the measures to be undertaken by the Commission in 2008-2013 making use of the remote-sensing applications developed within the framework of the common agricultural policy, Official Journal of the European Union, L 25 of 30 January 2008, p. 1.
Methodology for gap filling
- JRC - the MARS Unit The Monitoring Agricultural Resources (MARS) Unit has been created on July 15th 2007 as a split of the MARS actions (PAC, STAT and FOOD) and the FISHREG action.
- Fels-Klerx et al. 2012: Climate change impacts on natural toxins in food production systems, exemplified by deoxynivalenol in wheat and diarrhetic shellfish toxins. Fels-Klerx, H. J. van der, Olesen, J. E., Naustvoll, L.‑J., Friocourt, Y., Mengelers, M. J. B. and Christensen, J. H. (2012) Climate change impacts on natural toxins in food production systems, exemplified by deoxynivalenol in wheat and diarrhetic shellfish toxins. Food Additives and Contaminants: doi:10.1080/19440049.2012.714080.
- Olesen et al. (2012): Changes in time of sowing, flowering and maturity of cereals in Europe under climate change Olesen, J. E., Børgensen, C. D., Elsgaard, L., Palosuo, T., Rötter, R., Skjelvåg, A. O., Peltonen-Sainio, P., Börjesson, T., Trnka, M., Ewert, F., Siebert, S., Brisson, N., Eitzinger, J., van der Fels-Klerx, H. J. and van Asselt, E. (2012) Changes in time of sowing, flowering and maturity of cereals in Europe under climate change. Food Additives and Contaminants: Part A 29(10), 1 527–1 542. doi:10.1080/19440049.2012.712060.
EEA data references
- No datasets have been specified here.
External data references
- Changes in flowing and maturity time of cereals in Northern Europe under climate change
- Modelling of agricultural production: weather, soils and crops.
Data sources in latest figures
Data sets uncertainty
Effects of climate change on the growing season and crop phenology can be monitored directly, partly through remote sensing (growing season) and partly through monitoring of specific phenological events such as flowering. There is no common monitoring network for crop phenology in Europe, and data on this therefore has to be based on various national recordings, often from agronomic experiments. Crop yield and crop requirements for irrigation are not only affected by climate change, but also by management and a range of socio-economic factors. The effects of climate change on these factors therefore have to be estimated indirectly using agrometeorological indicators and through statistical analyses between climatic variables and factors such as crop yield.
The projections of climate change impacts and adaptation in agriculture rely heavily on modelling, and it needs to be recognised that there is often a chain of uncertainty involved in the projections going from emission scenario, through climate modelling, downscaling and to assessments of impacts using an impact model. The extent of all these uncertainties is rarely quantified, even though some studies have assessed uncertainties related to individual components. The crop modelling community has only recently started addressing uncertainties related to modelling impacts of climate change on crop yield and effect of possible adaptation options, and so far only few studies have involved livestock systems. Future studies also need to better incorporate effects of extreme climate events as well as biotic hazards (e.g. pests and diseases).
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/)
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?)