Comparison of Phenology Models for Predicting the Onset of Growing Season over the Northern Hemisphere

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Abstract

Vegetation phenology models are important for examining the impact of climate change on the length of the growing season and carbon cycles in terrestrial ecosystems. However, large uncertainties in present phenology models make accurate assessment of the beginning of the growing season (BGS) a challenge. In this study, based on the satellite-based phenology product (i.e. the V005 MODIS Land Cover Dynamics (MCD12Q2) product), we calibrated four phenology models, compared their relative strength to predict vegetation phenology; and assessed the spatial pattern and interannual variability of BGS in the Northern Hemisphere. The results indicated that parameter calibration significantly influences the models' accuracy. All models showed good performance in cool regions but poor performance in warm regions. On average, they explained about 67% (the Growing Degree Day model), 79% (the Biome-BGC phenology model), 73% (the Number of Growing Days model) and 68% (the Number of Chilling Days-Growing Degree Day model) of the BGS variations over the Northern Hemisphere. There were substantial differences in BGS simulations among the four phenology models. Overall, the Biome-BGC phenology model performed best in predicting the BGS, and showed low biases in most boreal and cool regions. Compared with the other three models, the two-phase phenology model (NCD-GDD) showed the lowest correlation and largest biases with the MODIS phenology product, although it could catch the interannual variations well for some vegetation types. Our study highlights the need for further improvements by integrating the effects of water availability, especially for plants growing in low latitudes, and the physiological adaptation of plants into phenology models.

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Fu, Y., Zhang, H., Dong, W., & Yuan, W. (2014). Comparison of Phenology Models for Predicting the Onset of Growing Season over the Northern Hemisphere. PLoS ONE, 9(10). https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0109544

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