Seventeen-year trends in spring and autumn phenophases of Betula pubescens in a boreal environment

Abstract

Trends in the timing of spring and autumn phenophases of Betula pubescens were investigated in the southern, middle, and northern boreal zones in Finland. The field observations were carried out at 21 sites in the Finnish National Phenological Network in 1997–2013. The effective temperature sum of the thermal growth period, i.e. the sum of the positive differences between diurnal mean temperatures and 5 °C (ETS1), increased annually on average by 6–7 degree day units. Timing of bud burst remained constant in the southern and middle boreal zones but advanced annually by 0.5 day in the northern boreal zone. The effective temperature sum at bud burst (ETS2) showed no trend in the southern and middle boreal zones, whereas ETS2 increased on average from 20–30 to 50 degree day units in the northern boreal zone, almost to the same level as in the other zones. Increase in ETS2 indicates that the trees did not start their growth in very early spring despite warmer spring temperatures. The timing of leaf colouring and leaf fall remained almost constant in the southern boreal zones, whereas these advanced annually by 0.3 and 0.6 day in the middle boreal zone and by 0.6 and 0.4 day in the northern boreal zone, respectively. The duration of the growth period remained constant in all boreal zones. The results indicate high buffering capacity of B. pubescens against temperature changes. The study also shows the importance of the duration of phenological studies: some trends in spring phenophases had levelled out, while new trends in autumn phases had emerged after earlier studies in the same network for a shorter observation period.

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Acknowledgments

The authors are grateful to the staff of the Finnish Research Institute (Metla), the Finnish Game and Fisheries Research (Reindeer Research Station), and the Universities of Helsinki (Värriö Subarctic Research Station), Eastern Finland (Mekrijärvi Research Station), Oulu (Oulanka Research Station), and Turku (Kevo Research Station) for carrying out the phenological observations. The climate data were derived from the Finnish Meteorological Institute. We also thank Irene Murtovaara for finishing the figures.

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Correspondence to Anne Tolvanen.

Electronic supplementary material

ESM 1

Linear trends in temperature conditions across observation years (PDF 22 kb)

ESM 2

Linear trends in precipitation conditions across observation years (PDF 22 kb)

ESM 3

Impact of monthly mean temperatures and ETS1 on timing of phenophases (PDF 22 kb)

ESM 4

Impact of monthly mean precipitation on timing of autumn phenophases (PDF 20 kb)

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Poikolainen, J., Tolvanen, A., Karhu, J. et al. Seventeen-year trends in spring and autumn phenophases of Betula pubescens in a boreal environment. Int J Biometeorol 60, 1227–1236 (2016). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00484-015-1118-3

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Keywords

  • Betula pubescens
  • Bud burst
  • Leaf colouring
  • Climate change
  • Boreal zone
  • Phenology