Liu, LL; Zhang, XY (2020). Effects of temperature variability and extremes on spring phenology across the contiguous United States from 1982 to 2016. SCIENTIFIC REPORTS, 10(1), 17952.

Warming climate and its impact on vegetation phenological trends have been widely investigated. However, interannual variability in temperature is considerably large in recent decades, which is expected to trigger an increasing trend of variation in vegetation phenology. To explore the interannual phenological variation across the contiguous United States (CONUS), we first detected the onset of vegetation greenup using the time series of the daily two-band Enhanced Vegetation Index (EVI2) observed from the AVHRR Long-Term Data Record (1982-1999) and the MODIS Climate Modeling Grid (2000-2016). We then calculated the interannual variation in greenup onset during four decadal periods: 1982-1989, 1990-1999, 2000-2009 and 2010-2016. Further, the trend of interannual variation in greenup onset from 1982 to 2016 was analyzed at pixel and state levels. Extreme phenological events were also determined using a greenup onset anomaly for each pixel. Similar approaches were applied to spring temperatures to detect extreme years and to the temporal trend of interannual variation to explain the phenological variation. The results revealed that 62% of pixels show an increasing interannual variation in greenup onset, and in 44% of pixels, this variation could be explained by the temperature. Although extreme phenology occurred locally in different years, three nationwide extreme phenological years were distinguished. The extreme warm spring that occurred in 2012 resulted in the occurrence of greenup onset as much as 20 days earlier than normal in large parts of the CONUS. In contrast, greenup onset was much later (up to 30 days) in 1983 and 1996 due to cool spring temperatures. These findings suggest that interannual variation in spring phenology could be much stronger in the future in response to climate variation, which could have more significant impacts on terrestrial ecosystems than the regular long-term phenological trend.