Changes in autumn vegetation dormancy onset date and the climate controls across temperate ecosystems in China from 1982 to 2010

Yuting Yang, Huade Guan, Miaogen Shen, Wei Liang, Lei Jiang

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    177 Citations (Scopus)


    Vegetation phenology is a sensitive indicator of the dynamic response of terrestrial ecosystems to climate change. In this study, the spatiotemporal pattern of vegetation dormancy onset date (DOD) and its climate controls over temperate China were examined by analysing the satellite-derived normalized difference vegetation index and concurrent climate data from 1982 to 2010. Results show that preseason (May through October) air temperature is the primary climatic control of the DOD spatial pattern across temperate China, whereas preseason cumulative precipitation is dominantly associated with the DOD spatial pattern in relatively cold regions. Temporally, the average DOD over China's temperate ecosystems has delayed by 0.13 days per year during the past three decades. However, the delay trends are not continuous throughout the 29-year period. The DOD experienced the largest delay during the 1980s, but the delay trend slowed down or even reversed during the 1990s and 2000s. Our results also show that interannual variations in DOD are most significantly related with preseason mean temperature in most ecosystems, except for the desert ecosystem for which the variations in DOD are mainly regulated by preseason cumulative precipitation. Moreover, temperature also determines the spatial pattern of temperature sensitivity of DOD, which became significantly lower as temperature increased. On the other hand, the temperature sensitivity of DOD increases with increasing precipitation, especially in relatively dry areas (e.g. temperate grassland). This finding stresses the importance of hydrological control on the response of autumn phenology to changes in temperature, which must be accounted in current temperature-driven phenological models.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)652-665
    Number of pages14
    JournalGlobal Change Biology
    Issue number2
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2015


    • China
    • Climate change
    • Dormancy onset date
    • NDVI
    • Remote sensing
    • Temperate zone
    • Vegetation phenology


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