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