Changing Plant Phenology in Germany Due to the Effects of Global Warming

By Gunther Schmidt, Marcel Holy, Roland Pesch and Winfried Schroeder.

Published by The International Journal of Climate Change: Impacts and Responses

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Article: Electronic $US5.00

In Germany, systematic observations of plant phenology are made available by the phenological network of the German Meteorological Service (Deutscher Wetterdienst DWD) with up to 270 phenological phases being observed at up to 6,400 sites throughout the country. In the study at hand, these site-specific observations were combined with air temperature measurements and climate models within a GIS environment in order to project phenological development of plants for the German territory. To reach this goal long-term means on annual air temperatures and the beginning of six phenological indicator phases were calculated for the periods 1961-1990 and 1991-2005, respectively, and finally joined for each observation site. The statistical association between air temperature and the corresponding beginning of the phenological phases was examined and modelled by linear regression analyses. The resulting regression equations were then applied on projected temperature data derived from two climate models REMO and Wettreg for the climate reference periods 1991-2020, 2021-2050, and 2051-2080 with regard to two different emission scenarios described by the IPCC. Considering these periods, the strongest shift could be calculated for hazel bloom (33 days towards the beginning of the year from 1961-1990 to 2051-2080). In summary, the results show that, given a further rise of the air temperature in the future, a shift of phenological phases towards the beginning of the year has to be expected. This may have consequences not only for the bio-geographical distribution of plants but also on rise in damages through insect pests and frosts during flowering period.

Keywords: Climate Change, Environmental Modelling, GIS, Plant Phenology, Regression Analysis, Risk Assessment

International Journal of Climate Change: Impacts and Responses, Volume 2, Issue 2, pp.73-84. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 2.732MB).

Dr. Gunther Schmidt

Research Assistant, Chair of Landscape Ecology, University of Vechta, Vechta, Germany

Dr. Gunther Schmidt was born on April 14th 1969 in Lüneburg, Lower Saxony, Germany. After school days with an emphasis on natural sciences and ancient languages he studied Geology at the Christians-Albrecht-University in Kiel specialising in hydrogeology and geostatistics. From 1996 to 1999 he worked as a research assistant at the University of Kiel dealing with planning and evaluation of national and federal environmental monitoring networks. Since 1999 he teaches geosciences and GIS at the Chair of Landscape Ecology, University of Vechta. There, he is also still engaged in several research projects analysing environmental data by applying GIS-methods, statistics and web-based instruments. He finished his doctoral thesis on the development of a nationwide landscape classification derived by applying multivariate statistics. Currently, he is coordinating the BMBF-joint research project GeneRisk - Ecological, legal and economic analyses concerning the coexistence of agriculture with and without genetically modified plants. Further, since 2010 he is manager of the Computing Centre of the University of Vechta.

Marcel Holy

Research Assistant, Chair of Landscape Ecology, University of Vechta, Vechta, Germany

Marcel Holy is 27 years old and finished his degree in environmental sciences in 2008 at the University of Vechta. His interests are in geospatial web services, analysis procedures with the aid of Geographic Information Systems and means of remote sensing, as well as game biology. Besides his study he works as a student assistant in different research projects of the Chair of Landscape Ecology at the University of Vechta. Since 2010 he is manager of a local association on nature protection in Northwest Germany.

Dr. Roland Pesch

Research Assistant, Chair of Landscape Ecology, University of Vechta, Vechta, Germany

Dr. Roland Pesch was born on May 6th 1967 in Kiel, Schleswig-Holstein (Germany). From 2000 up to now he is working as a research assistant for the application of database applications, (geo)statistics as well as GIS-methods with regard to terrestrial and marine monitoring issues at the Chair of Landscape Ecology, University of Vechta.

Prof. Winfried Schroeder

Head of department, Chair of Landscape Ecology, University of Vechta, Vechta, Germany

Prof. Dr. Winfried Schröder began his academic career at the Christian-Albrechts-University in Kiel (Germany), where he studied Geography and German Language. In his doctoral thesis he worked on the statistical investigation of the symptoms of forest decline in North Rhine Westphalia (finished in 1989). His postdoctoral lecture qualification was on ecology and environmental law in research and academic lecture (finished in 1997). From 1998 up to now he works as a professor for environmental sciences (with emphasis on landscape ecology) at the University of Vechta. His main research focus lies in environmental monitoring and statistics and GIS-methods in different terrestrial and marine environmental research fields. Since 2010 he is also head of the Computing Centre of the University of Vechta.

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