Regional Environmental Change

, Volume 5, Issue 1, pp 37–46 | Cite as

Plant phenology in Germany over the 20th century

  • Jörg SchaberEmail author
  • Franz-W. Badeck
Original article


Analysis of observational phenological data has indicated that the length of the vegetation period (VP), here defined as the time between leaf onset and leaf colouring (LC), has increased in the last decades in the northern latitudes mainly due to an advancement of bud burst. Analysing the patterns of spring phenology over the last century (1880–1999) in Southern Germany showed that the strong advancement of spring phases, especially in the decade before 1999, is not a singular event in the course of the 20th century. Similar trends were also observed in earlier decades. Distinct periods of varying trend direction for important spring phases could be distinguished. Marked differences in trend direction between early and late spring phases were detected, which can be explained by different trends in March and April mean temperatures. The advancement of spring phenology in recent decades is part of the multi-decadal fluctuations over the 20th century that vary with the species and the relevant seasonal temperatures. However, for all Natural Regions in Germany, spring phases were advanced by about 5–20 days on average between 1951 and 1999, LC was delayed between 1951 and 1984, but advanced after 1984 for all considered tree species and the length of the VP increased between 1951 and 1999 for all considered tree species by an average of 10 days throughout Germany.


Phenological trends Combined time series Standard periods Natural Regions 



The University Special Program HSP3 of the state Brandenburg supported this work. We thank the GWS for access to the phenological data and Mrs. Polte-Rudolf (GWS) for her support concerning the database.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact ResearchPotsdamGermany
  2. 2.Max Planck Institute for Molecular GeneticsBerlinGermany

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