Non-symmetric responses of leaf onset date to natural warming and cooling in northern ecosystems

Lei He, Jian Wang, Philippe Ciais, Ashley Ballantyne, Kailiang Yu, Wenxin Zhang, Jingfeng Xiao, François Ritter, Zhihua Liu, Xufeng Wang, Xiaojun Li, Shouzhang Peng, Changhui Ma, Chenghu Zhou, Zhao Liang Li, Yaowen Xie, Jian Sheng Ye

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


The northern hemisphere has experienced regional cooling, especially during the global warming hiatus (1998-2012) due to ocean energy redistribution. However, the lack of studies about the natural cooling effects hampers our understanding of vegetation responses to climate change. Using 15,125 ground phenological time series at 3,620 sites since the 1950s and 31-year satellite greenness observations (1982-2012) covering the warming hiatus period, we show a stronger response of leaf onset date (LOD) to natural cooling than to warming, i.e. the delay of LOD caused by 1°C cooling is larger than the advance of LOD with 1°C warming. This might be because cooling leads to larger chilling accumulation and heating requirements for leaf onset, but this non-symmetric LOD response is partially offset by warming-related drying. Moreover, spring greening magnitude, in terms of satellite-based greenness and productivity, is more sensitive to LOD changes in the warming area than in the cooling. These results highlight the importance of considering non-symmetric responses of spring greening to warming and cooling when predicting vegetation-climate feedbacks.

Original languageEnglish
Article numberpgad308
JournalPNAS Nexus
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 1 2023


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