Shen, MG; Tang, YH; Chen, J; Yang, W (2012). Specification of thermal growing season in temperate China from 1960 to 2009. CLIMATIC CHANGE, 114(4-Mar), 783-798.
A number of studies have reported an extension of the thermal growing season in response to the warming climate during recent decades. However, the magnitude of extension depends heavily on the threshold temperature used: for a given area, a small change in the threshold temperature results in significant differences in the calculated thermal growing season. Here, we specified the threshold temperature for determining the thermal growing season of local vegetation across 326 meteorological stations in temperate China by using vegetation phenology based on satellite imagery. We examined changes in the start, end, and length of the thermal growing season from 1960 to 2009. The threshold temperatures for determining the start and end increased strongly with increasing mean annual temperature. Averaged across temperate China, the start of the thermal growing season advanced by 8.4 days and the end was delayed by 5.7 days, resulting in a 14.1-day extension from 1960 to 2009. The thermal growing season was intensively prolonged (by 0.59 day/year) since the mid-1980s owing to accelerated warming during this period. This extension was similar to that determined by a spatially fixed threshold temperature of 5 A degrees C, but the spatial patterns differed, owing to differences in the threshold temperature and to intra-annual heterogeneity in climate warming. This study highlights the importance of specifying the temperature threshold for local vegetation when assessing the influences of climate change on thermal growing season, and provides a method for determining the threshold temperature from satellite-derived vegetation phenology.