, Volume 58, Issue 4, pp 509-519
Date: 15 Sep 2013

Spatial heterogeneity in the timing of birch budburst in response to future climate warming in Ireland

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In order to predict the impact of future climate warming on trees it is important to quantify the effect climate has on their development. Our understanding of the phenological response to environmental drivers has given rise to various mathematical models of the annual growth cycle of plants. These models simulate the timing of phenophases by quantifying the relationship between development and its triggers, typically temperature. In addition, other environmental variables have an important role in determining the timing of budburst. For example, photoperiod has been shown to have a strong influence on phenological events of a number of tree species, including Betula pubescens (birch). A recently developed model for birch (DORMPHOT), which integrates the effects of temperature and photoperiod on budburst, was applied to future temperature projections from a 19-member ensemble of regional climate simulations (on a 25 km grid) generated as part of the ENSEMBLES project, to simulate the timing of birch budburst in Ireland each year up to the end of the present century. Gridded temperature time series data from the climate simulations were used as input to the DORMPHOT model to simulate future budburst timing. The results showed an advancing trend in the timing of birch budburst over most regions in Ireland up to 2100. Interestingly, this trend appeared greater in the northeast of the country than in the southwest, where budburst is currently relatively early. These results could have implications for future forest planning, species distribution modeling, and the birch allergy season.