Influences of temperature and precipitation before the growing season on spring phenology in grasslands of the central and eastern Qinghai-Tibetan Plateau

Miaogen Shen, Yanhong Tang, Jin Chen, Xiaolin Zhu, Yinghua Zheng

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

297 Citations (Scopus)


Spatial variations in phenological responses to temperature have not been reported for grasslands of the Qinghai-Tibetan Plateau. Using satellite-derived normalized difference vegetation index and meteorological records from 1982 to 2006, we characterized the spatial patterns of grassland green-up onset in relation to air temperature and precipitation before the growing season (" preseason" henceforth) in the central and eastern plateau by combining linear programming with correlation analysis. Green-up onset near half of the meteorological stations was significantly correlated (p<0.10) with precipitation and thermal spring onset (TSO) date based on the cumulative temperature less than 6 weeks before the onset. The green-up onset paralleled the advance in TSO in the southwestern, southeastern, eastern, and northeastern parts of the plateau. The TSO and preseason precipitation (PPT) explained part of the inter-annual phenological variations, with r2varying between 0.05 and 0.55 and averaging 0.28, and did not explain delay of green-up onset in some areas. Increasing preseason temperature tended to advance green-up onset in relatively moist areas. PPT exerted a stronger influence on green-up onset in drier areas. These results indicate spatial differences in the key environmental influences on spring phenology. To improve the ability to predict onset, ground-based community-level phenological studies and spatial scaling-up of the phenology-climate relationship will be necessary.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1711-1722
Number of pages12
JournalAgricultural and Forest Meteorology
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - 15 Dec 2011
Externally publishedYes


  • Alpine grassland
  • Climate change
  • Land surface phenology
  • NDVI
  • Qinghai-Tibetan Plateau

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Agronomy and Crop Science
  • Forestry
  • Atmospheric Science
  • Global and Planetary Change

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