Temporal and geographical variation in the onset of climatological spring in Northeast China
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- Zheng, H., McLaughlin, N.B., He, X. et al. Theor Appl Climatol (2013) 114: 605. doi:10.1007/s00704-013-0869-1
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Indications of earlier onset of spring have been observed in behavior of diverse animal and plant species in the Northern Hemisphere in response to recent climate warming. Knowledge of changes in the spring onset is a critical requirement for understanding ecosystem adaption to climate change, especially for agricultural regions. In this study, we present a climatological approach for detecting the temporal and spatial variability in onset of spring with particular emphasis on how they vary along geographical parameters. Yearly dates for spring onset were computed for 71 climate stations in Northeast China based on daily surface air temperature records. These analyses were conducted for the two study periods (1960–2004 and 1979–2004). We also examined the boundary shifts of spring onset for three selected dates between the periods of 1960–1978 and 1979–2004. The results showed that advancement of spring onset was more pronounced for the period of 1979–2004 than for the period of 1960–2004 (4.0 vs. 2.2 days/decade). For the 22 stations where the spring advancement was statistically significant in the two periods, the mean rate of advancement was −0.6 days/decade during the period of 1960 to 1978. The trends of advancement of spring onset decreased with both increasing latitude and altitude up to 300 m above sea level, and these geographical effects were clearer during 1979–2004. Analysis of boundary shifts of three specific dates revealed that the spring onset has moved to higher latitudes for each date with an average shift of about 1° of latitude (about 110 km). Our results suggest that attempts to address how ecosystems will adapt to spring advancement associated with climate warming should consider the differences in response rates and geographical effects across the study area.