Indicator Specification

Plant phenology

Indicator Specification
  Indicator codes: CLIM 023
Published 08 Sep 2008 Last modified 25 Aug 2017
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Phenological sensitivity to temperature changes Oak (Quercus sp) leafing date in Surrey (United Kingdom) 1950-2008

Update planned for November 2012

Assessment versions

Published (reviewed and quality assured)
  • No published assessments


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).

Scientific references

  • No rationale references available

Indicator definition

  • Phenological sensitivity to temperature changes
  • Oak (Quercus sp) leafing date in Surrey (United Kingdom) 1950-2008



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.

External data references

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 023
Version id: 1


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


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