Phenology Feedbacks on Climate Change

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Science  15 May 2009:
Vol. 324, Issue 5929, pp. 887-888
DOI: 10.1126/science.1173004

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Climate warming has advanced the biological spring and delayed the arrival of biological winter (1, 2). These changes in the annual cycle of plants and the lengthening of the green-cover season have many consequences for ecological processes, agriculture, forestry, human health, and the global economy (3). Studies on vegetation-atmosphere interactions (4) and particularly on the impact of leaf emergence on climate (59) suggest that the phenological shifts in turn affect climate. The magnitude and sign of this effect are unknown but depend on water availability and regional characteristics.