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  1. Abstract

    Land surface phenology (LSP) products are currently of large uncertainties due to cloud contaminations and other impacts in temporal satellite observations and they have been poorly validated because of the lack of spatially comparable ground measurements. This study provided a reference dataset of gap-free time series and phenological dates by fusing the Harmonized Landsat 8 and Sentinel-2 (HLS) observations with near-surface PhenoCam time series for 78 regions of 10 × 10 km2across ecosystems in North America during 2019 and 2020. The HLS-PhenoCam LSP (HP-LSP) reference dataset at 30 m pixels is composed of: (1) 3-day synthetic gap-free EVI2 (two-band Enhanced Vegetation Index) time series that are physically meaningful to monitor the vegetation development across heterogeneous levels, train models (e.g., machine learning) for land surface mapping, and extract phenometrics from various methods; and (2) four key phenological dates (accuracy ≤5 days) that are spatially continuous and scalable, which are applicable to validate various satellite-based phenology products (e.g., global MODIS/VIIRS LSP), develop phenological models, and analyze climate impacts on terrestrial ecosystems.

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    Free, publicly-accessible full text available December 1, 2024
  2. Abstract

    Vegetation phenology is a key control on water, energy, and carbon fluxes in terrestrial ecosystems. Because vegetation canopies are heterogeneous, spatially explicit information related to seasonality in vegetation activity provides valuable information for studies that use eddy covariance measurements to study ecosystem function and land-atmosphere interactions. Here we present a land surface phenology (LSP) dataset derived at 3 m spatial resolution from PlanetScope imagery across a range of plant functional types and climates in North America. The dataset provides spatially explicit information related to the timing of phenophase changes such as the start, peak, and end of vegetation activity, along with vegetation index metrics and associated quality assurance flags for the growing seasons of 2017–2021 for 10 × 10 km windows centred over 104 eddy covariance towers at AmeriFlux and National Ecological Observatory Network (NEON) sites. These LSP data can be used to analyse processes controlling the seasonality of ecosystem-scale carbon, water, and energy fluxes, to evaluate predictions from land surface models, and to assess satellite-based LSP products.

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  3. Abstract

    Evapotranspiration (ET) is a significant ecosystem flux, governing the partitioning of energy at the land surface. Understanding the seasonal pattern and magnitude ofETis critical for anticipating a range of ecosystem impacts, including drought, heat‐wave events, and plant mortality. In this study, we identified the relative controls of seasonal variability inET, and how these controls vary among ecosystems. We used overlapping AmeriFlux and PhenoCam time series at a daily timestep from 20 sites to explore these linkages (# site‐years >100), and our study area covered a broad climatological aridity gradient in the U.S. and Canada. We focused on disentangling the most important controls of bulk surface conductance (Gs) and evaporative fraction (EF = LE/[H + LE]), whereLEandHrepresent latent and sensible heat fluxes, respectively. Specifically, we investigated how vegetation phenology varied in importance relative to meteorological variables (vapor pressure deficit and antecedent precipitation) as a driver ofGsandEFusing path analysis, a framework for quantifying and comparing the causal linkages among multiple response and explanatory variables. Our results revealed that the drivers ofGsandEFseasonality varied significantly between energy‐ and water‐limited ecosystems. Specifically, precipitation had a much higher effect in water‐limited ecosystems, while seasonal patterns in canopy greenness emerged as a stronger control in energy‐limited ecosystems. Given that phenology is expected to shift under future climate, our findings provide key information for understanding and predicting how phenology may impact 21st‐century hydroclimate regimes and the surface‐energy balance.

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  4. Abstract

    Large-scale changes in the state of the land surface affect the circulation of the atmosphere and the structure and function of ecosystems alike. As global temperatures increase and regional climates change, the timing of key plant phenophase changes are likely to shift as well. Here we evaluate a suite of phenometrics designed to facilitate an “apples to apples” comparison between remote sensing products and climate model output. Specifically, we derive day-of-year (DOY) thresholds of leaf area index (LAI) from both remote sensing and the Community Land Model (CLM) over the Northern Hemisphere. This systematic approach to comparing phenologically relevant variables reveals appreciable differences in both LAI seasonal cycle and spring onset timing between model simulated phenology and satellite records. For example, phenological spring onset in the model occurs on average 30 days later than observed, especially for evergreen plant functional types. The disagreement in phenology can result in a mean bias of approximately 5% of the total estimated Northern Hemisphere NPP. Further, while the more recent version of CLM (v5.0) exhibits seasonal mean LAI values that are in closer agreement with satellite data than its predecessor (CLM4.5), LAI seasonal cycles in CLM5.0 exhibit poorer agreement. Therefore, despite broad improvements for a range of states and fluxes from CLM4.5 to CLM5.0, degradation of plant phenology occurs in CLM5.0. Therefore, any coupling between the land surface and the atmosphere that depends on vegetation state might not be fully captured by the existing generation of the model. We also discuss several avenues for improving the fidelity between observations and model simulations.

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  5. Abstract

    The evolution of disciplinary silos and increasingly narrow disciplinary boundaries have together resulted in one‐sided approaches to the study of land‐atmosphere interactions—a field that requires a bi‐directional approach to understand the complex feedbacks and interactions that occur. The integration of surface flux and atmospheric boundary layer measurements is therefore essential to advancing our understanding. The Land‐Atmosphere 2021 workshop (held virtually, June 10‐11, 2021) involved almost 300 participants from around the world and promoted cross‐discipline collaboration by way of talks from invited speakers, moderated discussions, breakout sessions, and a virtual poster session. The workshop focused on five main theme areas: “big picture” overview, instrumentation and remote sensing, modeling, water, and aerosols and clouds. In talks and breakout groups, there were frequent calls for more AmeriFlux sites to be instrumented for boundary layer height measurements, and for the development of some “super sites” where profiling instruments would be deployed. There was further agreement on the need for the standardization of various datasets. There was also a consensus that funding agencies need to be willing to support the sorts of large projects (including associated instrumentation) which can drive interdisciplinary work. Early‐career scientists, in particular, expressed enthusiasm for working across disciplinary boundaries but noted that there need to be more financial support and training opportunities so they would be better prepared for interdisciplinary work. Investment in these career development opportunities would enable today's cohort of early‐career scientists to advance the frontiers of interdisciplinary work over the next couple of decades.

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  6. Premise of the Study

    We investigated the spatial and temporal patterns of vegetation phenology with phenometrics derived from PhenoCam imagery. Specifically, we evaluated the Bioclimatic Law proposed by Hopkins, which relates phenological transitions to latitude, longitude, and elevation.


    “Green‐up” and “green‐down” dates—representing the start and end of the annual cycles of vegetation activity—were estimated from measures of canopy greenness calculated from digital repeat photography. We used data from 65 deciduous broadleaf (DB) forest sites, 18 evergreen needleleaf (EN) forest sites, and 21 grassland (GR) sites.


    DBgreen‐up dates were well correlated with mean annual temperature and varied along spatial gradients consistent with the Bioclimatic Law. Interannual variation inDBphenology was most strongly associated with temperature anomalies during a relatively narrow window of time.ENphenology was not well correlated with either climatic factors or spatial gradients, but similar toDBphenology, interannual variation was most closely associated with temperature anomalies. ForGRsites, mean annual precipitation explained most of the spatial variation in the duration of vegetation activity, whereas both temperature and precipitation anomalies explained interannual variation in phenology.


    PhenoCam data provide an objective and consistent means by which spatial and temporal patterns in vegetation phenology can be investigated.

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  7. Abstract

    Vegetation phenology in spring has substantially advanced under climate warming, consequently shifting the seasonality of ecosystem process and altering biosphere–atmosphere feedbacks. However, whether and to what extent photoperiod (i.e., daylength) affects the phenological advancement is unclear, leading to large uncertainties in projecting future phenological changes. Here we examined the photoperiod effect on spring phenology at a regional scale using in situ observation of six deciduous tree species from the Pan European Phenological Network during 1980–2016. We disentangled the photoperiod effect from the temperature effect (i.e., forcing and chilling) by utilizing the unique topography of the northern Alps of Europe (i.e., varying daylength but uniform temperature distribution across latitudes) and examining phenological changes across latitudes. We found prominent photoperiod‐induced shifts in spring leaf‐out across latitudes (up to 1.7 days per latitudinal degree). Photoperiod regulates spring phenology by delaying early leaf‐out and advancing late leaf‐out caused by temperature variations. Based on these findings, we proposed two phenological models that consider the photoperiod effect through different mechanisms and compared them with a chilling model. We found that photoperiod regulation would slow down the advance in spring leaf‐out under projected climate warming and thus mitigate the increasing frost risk in spring that deciduous forests will face in the future. Our findings identify photoperiod as a critical but understudied factor influencing spring phenology, suggesting that the responses of terrestrial ecosystem processes to climate warming are likely to be overestimated without adequately considering the photoperiod effect.

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  8. Abstract

    Projected changes in temperature and precipitation are expected to influence spring and autumn vegetation phenology and hence the length of the growing season in many ecosystems. However, the sensitivity of green‐up and senescence to climate remains uncertain. We analyzed 488 site years of canopy greenness measurements from deciduous forest broadleaf forests across North America. We found that the sensitivity of green‐up to temperature anomalies increases with increasing mean annual temperature, suggesting lower temperature sensitivity as we move to higher latitudes. Furthermore, autumn senescence is most sensitive to moisture deficits at dry sites, with decreasing sensitivity as mean annual precipitation increases. Future projections suggest North American deciduous forests will experience higher sensitivity to temperature in the next 50 years, with larger changes expected in northern regions than in southern regions. Our study highlights how interactions between long‐term and short‐term changes in the climate system influence green‐up and senescence.

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  9. Summary

    Evergreen conifer forests are the most prevalent land cover type in North America. Seasonal changes in the color of evergreen forest canopies have been documented with near‐surface remote sensing, but the physiological mechanisms underlying these changes, and the implications for photosynthetic uptake, have not been fully elucidated.

    Here, we integrate on‐the‐ground phenological observations, leaf‐level physiological measurements, near surface hyperspectral remote sensing and digital camera imagery, tower‐based CO2flux measurements, and a predictive model to simulate seasonal canopy color dynamics.

    We show that seasonal changes in canopy color occur independently of new leaf production, but track changes in chlorophyll fluorescence, the photochemical reflectance index, and leaf pigmentation. We demonstrate that at winter‐dormant sites, seasonal changes in canopy color can be used to predict the onset of canopy‐level photosynthesis in spring, and its cessation in autumn. Finally, we parameterize a simple temperature‐based model to predict the seasonal cycle of canopy greenness, and we show that the model successfully simulates interannual variation in the timing of changes in canopy color.

    These results provide mechanistic insight into the factors driving seasonal changes in evergreen canopy color and provide opportunities to monitor and model seasonal variation in photosynthetic activity using color‐based vegetation indices.

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  10. Free, publicly-accessible full text available February 1, 2025