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How plants respond to warming temperatures

An EU project is helping tackle the global challenge of climate change by improving understanding of the effects of warming temperatures on plants.
How plants respond to warming temperatures
Around the world, temperatures are on the rise because of global warming. This could alter how the climate influences the seasonal cycles of plants and trees, such as their leaf emergence in spring, flowering and autumn colouring.

The EUROSAT4PHENOCHANGES (Monitoring vegetation phenology at multiple scales in Europe from the GMES satellite sensor time-series: A special consideration to Natura2000 areas) project, funded by the EU, used satellite imagery to generate new data about Europe's vegetation that can update computer-generated models.

To understand the effects of global warming on the planet, including its vegetation, scientists use computer models. But, these models require reliable data gathered from the real world to inform and improve their predictions.

To this end, project scientists analysed satellite imagery of the European continent that shows different types of vegetation changing over time. They then created a set of data to serve as a baseline to compare past and future responses of plants and trees to climate changes.

Specifically, researchers gathered data on the onset of greenness, end of senescence and length of the season. These were mapped at medium resolution (1 km) for the whole of Europe and fine resolution (300 m) for the Iberian Peninsula in Spain.

Finally, EUROSAT4PHENOCHANGES used this updated vegetation data to model anomalies in European vegetation behaviour over the last decade. The data shed new light on what drives changes in vegetation behaviour over seasonal timescales.

The results of this project represent one of the most recent and comprehensive studies of Europe's vegetation at a detailed scale. Other researchers will be able to use the data to inform and fine-tune their own models.

Related information


Plants, climate change, global warming, seasonal cycles, vegetation, satellite imagery
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