Spring leaf phenology and the diurnal temperature range in a temperate maple forest
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Spring leaf phenology in temperate climates is intricately related to numerous aspects of the lower atmosphere [e.g., surface energy balance, carbon flux, humidity, the diurnal temperature range (DTR)]. To further develop and improve the accuracy of ecosystem and climate models, additional investigations of the specific nature of the relationships between spring leaf phenology and various ecosystem and climate processes are required in different environments. This study used visual observations of maple leaf phenology, below-canopy light intensities, and micrometeorological data collected during the spring seasons of 2008, 2009, and 2010 to examine the potential influence of leaf phenology on a seasonal transition in the trend of the DTR. The timing of a reversal in the DTR trend occurred near the time when the leaves were unfolding and expanding. The results suggest that the spring decline in the DTR can be attributed primarily to the effect of canopy closure on daily maximum temperature. These findings improve our understanding of the relationship between leaf phenology and the diurnal temperature range in temperate maple forests during the spring. They also demonstrate the necessity of incorporating accurate phenological data into ecosystem and climate models and warrant a careful examination of the extent to which canopy phenology is currently incorporated into existing models.
KeywordsPhenology Diurnal temperature range Temperate forest
The data for this study were provided by Dr. Mark D. Schwartz. The data were collected as part of a larger study supported by the National Science Foundation under grant numbers BCS-0649380 and BCS-0703360. I thank Dr. Schwartz and Dr. Keith Henderson for the insightful comments they offered in response to an initial presentation of this research at the annual meeting of the Association of American Geographers in February 2012. I also thank the two anonymous reviewers for their insightful comments that greatly improved the quality of this study.
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