Temperature and vegetation seasonality diminishment over northern lands

L. Xu, R. B. Myneni, F. S. Chapin, T. V. Callaghan, J. E. Pinzon, C. J. Tucker, Z. Zhu, J. Bi, P. Ciais, H. Tømmervik, E. S. Euskirchen, B. C. Forbes, S. L. Piao, B. T. Anderson, S. Ganguly, R. R. Nemani, S. J. Goetz, P. S.A. Beck, A. G. Bunn, C. CaoJ. C. Stroeve

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

498 Scopus citations


Global temperature is increasing, especially over northern lands (>50N), owing to positive feedbacks. As this increase is most pronounced in winter, temperature seasonality (S T) - conventionally defined as the difference between summer and winter temperatures - is diminishing over time, a phenomenon that is analogous to its equatorward decline at an annual scale. The initiation, termination and performance of vegetation photosynthetic activity are tied to threshold temperatures. Trends in the timing of these thresholds and cumulative temperatures above them may alter vegetation productivity, or modify vegetation seasonality (S V), over time. The relationship between S T and S V is critically examined here with newly improved ground and satellite data sets. The observed diminishment of S T and S V is equivalent to 4and 7(5and 6) latitudinal shift equatorward during the past 30 years in the Arctic (boreal) region. Analysis of simulations from 17 state-of-the-art climate models indicates an additional S T diminishment equivalent to a 20equatorward shift could occur this century. How S V will change in response to such large projected S T declines and the impact this will have on ecosystem services are not well understood. Hence the need for continued monitoring of northern lands as their seasonal temperature profiles evolve to resemble thosefurther south.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)581-586
Number of pages6
JournalNature Climate Change
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2013
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Science (miscellaneous)
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)


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