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Clarifying springtime temperature reconstructions of the medieval period by gap-filling the cherry blossom phenological data series at Kyoto, Japan

Abstract

We investigated documents and diaries from the ninth to the fourteenth centuries to supplement the phenological data series of the flowering of Japanese cherry (Prunus jamasakura) in Kyoto, Japan, to improve and fill gaps in temperature estimates based on previously reported phenological data. We then reconstructed a nearly continuous series of March mean temperatures based on 224 years of cherry flowering data, including 51 years of previously unused data, to clarify springtime climate changes. We also attempted to estimate cherry full-flowering dates from phenological records of other deciduous species, adding further data for 6 years in the tenth and eleventh centuries by using the flowering phenology of Japanese wisteria (Wisteria floribunda). The reconstructed tenth century March mean temperatures were around 7°C, indicating warmer conditions than at present. Temperatures then fell until the 1180s, recovered gradually until the 1310s, and then declined again in the mid-fourteenth century.

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Correspondence to Yasuyuki Aono.

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Aono, Y., Saito, S. Clarifying springtime temperature reconstructions of the medieval period by gap-filling the cherry blossom phenological data series at Kyoto, Japan. Int J Biometeorol 54, 211–219 (2010). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00484-009-0272-x

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Keywords

  • Climatic reconstruction
  • Kyoto
  • Phenology
  • Cherry blossom
  • Wisteria flower