Urban warming advances spring phenology but reduces the response of phenology to temperature in the conterminous United States

Lin Meng, Jiafu Mao, Yuyu Zhou, Andrew D. Richardson, Xuhui Lee, Peter E. Thornton, Daniel M. Ricciuto, Xuecao Li, Yongjiu Dai, Xiaoying Shi, Gensuo Jia

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

41 Scopus citations

Abstract

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 languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)4228-4233
Number of pages6
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Volume117
Issue number8
DOIs
StatePublished - Feb 25 2020

Keywords

  • Phenology
  • Temperature response
  • Urban heat island
  • Urbanization

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General

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