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 the sowing date and choice of cultivar, recent warming in Europe has clearly caused the advancement of a significant part of the agricultural calendar. Specific stages of growth (e.g. flowering, grain filling) are particularly sensitive to weather conditions are critical to the 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, as a longer cycle permits better use of the available thermal energy, solar radiation and water resources.
- IPCC, 2014a: Climate Change 2014: Impacts, Adaptation, and Vulnerability. Part A: Global and Sectoral Aspects. Contribution of Working Group II to the Fifth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change [Field, C.B., V.R. Barros, D.J. Dokken, K.J. Mach, M.D. Mastrandrea, T.E. Bilir, M. Chatterjee, K.L. Ebi, Y.O. Estrada, R.C. Genova, B. Girma, E.S. Kissel, A.N. Levy, S. MacCracken, P.R. Mastrandrea, and L.L. White (eds.)]. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, United Kingdom and New York, NY, USA, 1132 pp.
- IPCC, 2014c: Europe. Kovats, R.S., R. Valentini, L.M. Bouwer, E. Georgopoulou, D. Jacob, E. Martin, M. Rounsevell, and J.-F. Soussana, 2014: Europe. In: Climate Change 2014: Impacts, Adaptation, and Vulnerability. Part B: Regional Aspects. Contribution of Working Group II to the Fifth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change [Barros, V.R., C.B. Field, D.J. Dokken, M.D. Mastrandrea, K.J. Mach, T.E. Bilir, M. Chatterjee, K.L. Ebi, Y.O. Estrada, R.C. Genova, B. Girma, E.S. Kissel, A.N. Levy, S. MacCracken, P.R. Mastrandrea, and L.L. White (eds.)]. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, United Kingdom and New York, NY, USA, pp. 1267-1326.
- 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.
- Trend in flowering date for winter wheat
Policy context and targets
In April 2013, the European Commission (EC) presented the EU Adaptation Strategy Package. This package consists of the EU Strategy on adaptation to climate change (COM/2013/216 final) and a number of supporting documents. The overall aim of the EU Adaptation Strategy is to contribute to a more climate-resilient Europe.
One of the objectives of the EU Adaptation Strategy is Better informed decision-making, which will be achieved by bridging the knowledge gap and further developing the European climate adaptation platform (Climate-ADAPT) as the ‘one-stop shop’ for adaptation information in Europe. Climate-ADAPT has been developed jointly by the EC and the EEA to share knowledge on (1) observed and projected climate change and its impacts on environmental and social systems and on human health, (2) relevant research, (3) EU, transnational, national and subnational adaptation strategies and plans, and (4) adaptation case studies.
Further objectives include Promoting adaptation in key vulnerable sectors through climate-proofing EU sector policies and Promoting action by Member States. Most EU Member States have already adopted national adaptation strategies and many have also prepared action plans on climate change adaptation. The EC also supports adaptation in cities through the Covenant of Mayors for Climate and Energy initiative.
In September 2016, the EC presented an indicative roadmap for the evaluation of the EU Adaptation Strategy by 2018.
In November 2013, the European Parliament and the European Council adopted the 7th EU Environment Action Programme (7th EAP) to 2020, ‘Living well, within the limits of our planet’. The 7th EAP is intended to help guide EU action on environment and climate change up to and beyond 2020. It highlights that ‘Action to mitigate and adapt to climate change will increase the resilience of the Union’s economy and society, while stimulating innovation and protecting the Union’s natural resources.’ Consequently, several priority objectives of the 7th EAP refer to climate change adaptation.
No targets have been specified.
Related policy documents
7th Environment Action Programme
DECISION No 1386/2013/EU OF THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT AND OF THE COUNCIL of 20 November 2013 on a General Union Environment Action Programme to 2020 ‘Living well, within the limits of our planet’. In November 2013, the European Parliament and the European Council adopted the 7 th EU Environment Action Programme to 2020 ‘Living well, within the limits of our planet’. This programme is intended to help guide EU action on the environment and climate change up to and beyond 2020 based on the following vision: ‘In 2050, we live well, within the planet’s ecological limits. Our prosperity and healthy environment stem from an innovative, circular economy where nothing is wasted and where natural resources are managed sustainably, and biodiversity is protected, valued and restored in ways that enhance our society’s resilience. Our low-carbon growth has long been decoupled from resource use, setting the pace for a safe and sustainable global society.’
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 in the future. This web portal 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 enhances the preparedness and capacity of all governance levels to respond to the impacts of climate change.
EU Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) reform - basic regulations
References to climate change particularly in Regulation 1307/2013 (direct payments for farmers), Regulation 1306/2013 (so-called horizontal issues such as funding and controls: Articles 12 and 93, Annex I) and Regulation 1305/2013 (rural development: Articles 5, 7, 15, 28, 34, 35, 53 and 55).
Key policy question
How is climate change affecting the seasonal cycle of agricultural crops across Europe?
Methodology for indicator calculation
The map was produced based on the Agri4Cast database developed by the Joint Research Centre (JRC). The database contains meteorological data at 25 kilometres grid level, interpolated from meteorological station data. The interpolation is performed taking into account only arable land that is potentially suitable for crop growth. Crop phenology was simulated with the WOFOST (WOrld FOod STudies) model. The WOFOST model is maintained and further developed by Wageningen Environmental Research (Alterra) in co-operation with the Plant Production Systems Group of Wageningen University & Research and the Agri4Cast unit of the Joint Research Centre.
Methodology for gap filling
- Biavetti et al. (2014): European meteorological data: contribution to research, development, and policy support. Irene Biavetti, Sotiris Karetsos, Andrej Ceglar, Andrea Toreti and Panos Panagos: ’European meteorological data: contribution to research, development, and policy support’, Proc. SPIE 9229, Second International Conference on Remote Sensing and Geoinformation of the Environment (RSCy2014), 922907 (August 12, 2014); doi:10.1117/12.2066286
- Documentation WOFOST. Wageningen University and Research, 2016.
EEA data references
- No datasets have been specified here.
External data references
Data sources in latest figures
Data sets uncertainty
The effects of climate change on the growing season and crop phenology can be monitored directly, partly through remote sensing of the 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 therefore data on crop phenology have to be based on various national recordings, often from agronomic experiments.
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, which range from emissions scenarios, through climate modelling and downscaling, 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 the effect of possible adaptation options. Recently, the effects of extreme climate events have also been included in impact assessments, but other effects such as those related to biotic hazards (e.g. pests and diseases) still need to be explored.
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
Frequency of updates
Typology: Descriptive indicator (Type A - What is happening to the environment and to humans?)
For references, please go to http://www.eea.europa.eu/data-and-maps/indicators/timing-of-the-cycle-of-2 or scan the QR code.
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