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Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2021

Long-term standardized forest phenology in Sweden: a climate change indicator

Langvall, Ola; Ottosson Löfvenius, Mikaell;


Because climate change alters patterns of vegetative growth, long-term phenological measurements and observations can provide important data for analyzing its impact. Phenological assessments are usually made as records of calendar dates when specific phase changes occur. Such assessments have benefits and are used in Citizen Science monitoring. However, these kinds of data often have low statistical precision when describing gradual changes. Frequent monitoring of the phenological traits of forest trees and berries as they undergo gradual change is needed to acquire good temporal resolution of transitions relative to other factors, such as susceptibility to frosts, insects, and fungi, and the use of berries as a food resource. Intensive weekly monitoring of the growth of apical and branch buds and the elongation of shoots and leaves on four tree species, and the abundance of flowers and berries of bilberry and lingonberry, has been performed in Sweden since 2006. Here, we present quantitative methods for interpolating such data, which detail the gradual changes between assessments in order to describe average rates of development and amount of interannual variation. Our analysis has shown the active growth period of trees to differ with latitude. We also observed a change in the timing of the maximum numbers of ripening berries and their successive decline. Data from tree phenology assessments can be used to recommend best forestry practice and to model tree growth, while berry data can be used to estimate when food resources for animals are most available.


Climate change; Plant phenology; Process-based assessments; Phenology models; Boreal forest

Published in

International Journal of Biometeorology

2021, volume: 65, number: 3, pages: 381-391

Authors' information

Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Unit for Field-based Forest Research
Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Forest Ecology and Management

UKÄ Subject classification

Climate Research

Publication Identifiers


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