Urbanization has caused environmental changes, such as urban heat islands (UHIs), that affect terrestrial ecosystems. However, how and to what extent urbanization affects plant phenology remains relatively unexplored. Here, we investigated the changes in the satellite-derived start of season (SOS) and the covariation between SOS and temperature (RT) in 85 large cities across the conterminous United States for the period 2001–2014. We found that 1) the SOS came significantly earlier (6.1 ± 6.3 d) in 74 cities and RT was significantly weaker (0.03 ± 0.07) in 43 cities when compared with their surrounding rural areas (P < 0.05); 2) the decreased magnitude in RT mainly occurred in cities in relatively cold regions with an annual mean temperature <17.3 °C (e.g., Minnesota, Michigan, and Pennsylvania); and 3) the magnitude of urban−rural difference in both SOS and RT was primarily correlated with the intensity of UHI. Simulations of two phenology models further suggested that more and faster heat accumulation contributed to the earlier SOS, while a decrease in required chilling led to a decline in RT magnitude in urban areas. These findings provide observational evidence of a reduced covariation between temperature and SOS in major US cities, implying the response of spring phenology to warming conditions in nonurban environments may decline in the warming future.
|Original language||English (US)|
|Number of pages||6|
|Journal||Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America|
|State||Published - Feb 25 2020|
- Temperature response
- Urban heat island
ASJC Scopus subject areas