, Volume 74, Issue 1-2, pp 41-51

Trends of spring time frost events and phenological dates in Central Europe

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¶Over large parts of the Northern Hemisphere’s continents temperature has been increasing during the last century. Particularly minimum temperatures show a more pronounced increase than maximum temperatures. Not only the phenological seasons, but also the potentially plant damaging late frost events are governed by the atmosphere. In case of a rise of minimum temperatures one would expect phenological phases and spring late frost events to occur earlier. In this work the question is elucidated whether plant phenology shifts at a higher or lower rate towards earlier occurrences than potential plant damaging events, like spring late frost events. Frost events based on the last occurrence of daily minimum temperatures below a certain threshold have been moving faster to earlier occurrence dates than phenological phases during the last decades at 50 climate stations in Central Europe. Trend values of frost time series range around −0.2 days/year and of phenological time series are between −0.2 and 0.0 days/year over the period from 1951–1997. ‘Corylus avellana beginning of pollination’ is the only one of the 13 phases considered here with a lower trend value of −0.28 days/year. Early phases are more adapted to below zero temperatures and therefore follow more closely the temperature variability. Later phases seem to have more reason to be concerned about possible late frost events and react more cautiously towards higher spring temperatures and earlier last frost dates. The risk of late frost damage for plants should have been lower during the last decade as compared to the previous decades.

Received June 28, 2002; accepted July 18, 2002