Journal of Arid Land

, Volume 10, Issue 2, pp 264–276 | Cite as

Variations of the thermal growing season during the period 1961–2015 in northern China

  • Linli Cui
  • Jun Shi
  • Yue Ma
  • Xiaochen Liu


Researching into changes in thermal growing season has been one of the most important scientific issues in studies of the impact of global climate change on terrestrial ecosystems. However, few studies investigated the differences under various definitions of thermal growing season and compared the trends of thermal growing season in different parts of China. Based on the daily mean air temperatures collected from 877 meteorological stations over northern China from 1961 to 2015, we investigated the variations of the thermal growing season parameters including the onset, ending and duration of the growing season using the methods of differential analysis, trend analysis, comparative analysis, and Kriging interpolation technique. Results indicate that the differences of the maximum values of those indices for the thermal growing season were significant, while they were insignificant for the mean values. For indices with the same length of the spells exceeding 5°C, frost criterion had a significant effect on the differences of the maximum values. The differences of the mean values between frost and non-frost indices were also slight, even smaller than those from the different lengths of the spells. Temporally, the starting date of the thermal growing season advanced by 10.0–11.0 days, while the ending dates delayed by 5.0–6.0 days during the period 1961–2015. Consequently, the duration of the thermal growing season was prolonged 15.0–16.0 days. Spatially, the advanced onset of the thermal growing season occurred in the southwestern, eastern, and northeastern parts of northern China, whereas the delayed ending of the thermal growing season appeared in the western part, and the length of the thermal growing season was prolonged significantly in the vast majority of northern China. The trend values of the thermal growing season were affected by altitude. The magnitude of the earlier onset of the thermal growing season decreased, and that of the later ending increased rapidly as the altitude increased, causing the magnitude of the prolonged growing season increased correspondingly. Comparing the applicability of selected indices and considering the impacts of frost on the definitions are important and necessary for determining the timing and length of the thermal growing season in northern China.


daily mean air temperatures length of the growing season starting date of the thermal growing season ending date of the thermal growing season trend northern China 


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This work was supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (41571044, 41401661, 41001283), the Climate Change Special Fund of the China Meteorological Administration (CCSF201716) and the China Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) Fund Project (2012043).


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Copyright information

© Xinjiang Institute of Ecology and Geography, the Chinese Academy of Sciences and Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Shanghai Institute of Meteorological ScienceShanghai Meteorological BureauShanghaiChina
  2. 2.Shanghai Key Laboratory of Meteorology and HealthShanghaiChina
  3. 3.Shanghai Climate CenterShanghai Meteorological BureauShanghaiChina

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