The North Atlantic Oscillation system and plant phenology


The onset of flowering in 78 wild and domesticated terrestrial plant species recorded in South Moravia (Czech Republic) from 1965 to 2014 was correlated with the North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO) index of the preceding winter. Flowering occurred significantly earlier following positive winter NAO phases (causing spring to be warmer than normal in Central Europe) in nearly all early-flowering (March, April) species; high Pearson correlation values were recorded in, e.g., goat willow, spring snowflake, golden bell, cornelian cherry, sweet violet, cherry plum, grape hyacinth, apricot, blackthorn, common dandelion, cherry, southern magnolia, common apple, cuckoo flower, European bird cherry, and cherry laurel. In contrast, the timing of later-flowering plant species (May to July) did not correlate significantly with the winter NAO index. It was found that local temperature is obviously a proximate factor of plant phenology, while the winter NAO is the ultimate factor, affecting temperature and other meteorological phenomena in Central Europe during spring season.

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Correspondence to Zdenek Hubálek.

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Hubálek, Z. The North Atlantic Oscillation system and plant phenology. Int J Biometeorol 60, 749–756 (2016).

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  • NAO
  • Atmospheric circulation
  • Weather
  • Temperature
  • Flowering timing
  • Czech Republic