International Journal of Biometeorology

, Volume 48, Issue 2, pp 56–64 | Cite as

Exploring two methods for statistical downscaling of Central European phenological time series

  • C. MatullaEmail author
  • H. Scheifinger
  • A. Menzel
  • E. Koch
Original Article


In this study we set out to investigate the possibility of linking phenological phases throughout the vegetation cycle, as a local-scale biological phenomenon, directly with large-scale atmospheric variables via two different empirical downscaling techniques. In recent years a number of methods have been developed to transfer atmospheric information at coarse General Circulation Model's grid resolutions to local scales and individual points. Here multiple linear regression (MLR) and canonical correlation analysis (CCA) have been selected as downscaling methods. Different validation experiments (e.g. temporal cross-validation, split-sample tests) are used to test the performance of both approaches and compare them for time series of 17 phenological phases and air temperatures from Central Europe as microscale variables. A number of atmospheric variables over the North Atlantic and Europe are utilized as macroscale predictors. The period considered is 1951–1998. Temporal cross-validation reveals that the CCA model generally performs better than MLR, which explains 20%–50% of the phenological variances, whereas the CCA model shows a range from 40% to over 60% throughout most of the vegetation cycle. To show the validity of employing phenological observations for downscaling purposes both methods (MLR and CCA) are also applied to gridded local air temperature time series over Central Europe. In this case there is no obvious superiority of the CCA model over the MLR model. Both models show explained variances from 40% to over 70% in the temporal cross-validation experiment. The results of this study indicate that time series of phenological occurrence dates are very compatible with the needs of empirical downscaling originally developed of local-scale atmospheric variables.


Empirical downscaling Phenological phases Vegetation cycle CCA MLR 



This study was funded by the 5th Framework Programme of the European Commission under the key action Global Change, Climate and Biodiversity (POSITIVE, EVK2-CT-1999-00012) and by the Austrian Federal Ministry of Education, Science and Culture within the research project: "Usability of different downscaling methods in complex terrain". MeteoSwiss, the German Weather Service and the Hydrometeorological Service of Slovenia are thanked for providing phenological observations. The Austrian Weather Service provided the ALPCLIM dataset. We would like to thank H. Matulla, S. Wagner and D. Bray for fruitful discussions and for helping us with the manuscript. The manuscript was improved by the comments of two anonymous referees.


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Copyright information

© ISB 2003

Authors and Affiliations

  • C. Matulla
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • H. Scheifinger
    • 3
  • A. Menzel
    • 4
  • E. Koch
    • 3
  1. 1.Institute of Meteorology and Physics, University for Agricultural Sciences, Vienna, Austria
  2. 2.Institute for Coastal Research, GKSS Research Centre, Max-Planck-Strasse, Geesthacht, Germany
  3. 3.Central Institute for Meteorology and Geodynamics, Hohe Warte 38, Vienna, Austria
  4. 4.Department of Ecology, Technical University Munich, Freising, Germany

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