Science China Earth Sciences

, Volume 61, Issue 8, pp 1088–1097 | Cite as

Spatiotemporal differentiation of changes in wheat phenology in China under climate change from 1981 to 2010

  • Yujie LiuEmail author
  • Qiaomin Chen
  • Quansheng GeEmail author
  • Junhu Dai
Research Paper


Phenology is a reliable biological indicator for reflecting climate change. An examination of changes in crop phenology and the mechanisms driving them is critical for guiding regional agricultural activities in attempts to adapt to climate change. Due to a lack of records based on continuous long-term observation, studies on changes in multiple consecutive phenological stages throughout a whole growing season on a national scale are rarely found, especially with regard to the spatiotemporal differentiation of phenological changes. Using a long-term dataset (1981-2010) of wheat phenology collected from 48 agro-meteorological stations in China, we qualified the spatiotemporal changes of 10 phenological stages as well as the length of wheat growth phases. Results showed that climate and wheat phenology changed significantly during the growing seasons from 1981 to 2010. On average, on a national scale, dates of sowing (0.19 d a-1), emergence (0.06 d a-1), trefoil (0.05 d a-1), and milk ripe (0.06 d a-1) showed a delaying trend, whereas dates of tillering (-0.02 d a-1), jointing (-0.15 d a-1), booting (-0.21 d a-1), heading (-0.17 d a-1), anthesis (-0.19 d a-1), and maturity (-0.10 d a-1) showed an advancing trend. Furthermore, the vegetative growth phase and growing season were shortened by 0.23 and 0.29 d a-1, respectively, whereas the reproductive growth phase was lengthened by 0.06 d a-1. Trends in dates of phenological stages or length of growing phases varied across wheat-planting regions. Moreover, spatiotemporal differentiation of sensitivity in growing season length (GSL) to variations in climatic factors during the growing season between spring and winter wheat were remarkable. The GSL of spring (winter) wheat decreased (increased) with an increase in average temperature during the growing season. In all wheat-planting regions, the GSL increased with the increasing of total precipitation and sunshine duration during the growing season. In particular, the sensitivity of GSL to precipitation for spring wheat was weaker than for winter wheat, while the sensitivity of GSL to sunshine duration for spring wheat was stronger than for winter wheat. Recognition of the spatiotemporal differentiation of phenological changes and their response to various climatic factors will provide scientific support for decision-making in agricultural production.


Wheat phenology Spatiotemporal differentiation Climate change China 


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We thank the two anonymous reviewers for raising suggestions on the manuscript. Special thanks to Dr. Hang Xiong of King’s College London for his helpful comments and suggestions on this manuscript. We also thank the China Meteorological Administration for providing data support. This work was supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (Grant Nos. 41671037 & 41301091), the National Key Research and Development Program of China (Grant No. 2016YFA0602402), and the Youth Innovation Promotion Association, CAS (Grant No. 2016049).


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Copyright information

© Science China Press and Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Key Laboratory of Land Surface Pattern and Simulation, Institute of Geographic Sciences and Natural Resources ResearchChinese Academy of SciencesBeijingChina
  2. 2.University of Chinese Academy of SciencesBeijingChina

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