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Growing uncertainty in projected spring onset variability in the Northern Hemisphere
  • +6
  • Xiaolu Li,
  • Toby Ault,
  • Colin P Evans,
  • Flavio Lehner,
  • Carlos M. Carrillo,
  • Alison Donnelly,
  • T.M. Crimmins,
  • amanda gallinat,
  • Mark D Schwartz
Xiaolu Li
Cornell University

Corresponding Author:xl552@cornell.edu

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Toby Ault
Cornell University
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Colin P Evans
Cornell University
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Flavio Lehner
Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, Cornell University
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Carlos M. Carrillo
Cornell University
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Alison Donnelly
The University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee
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T.M. Crimmins
4USA National Phenology Network, School of Natural Resources and the Environment, University of Arizona,
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amanda gallinat
Unknown
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Mark D Schwartz
University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee
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Abstract

Plant phenology regulates the carbon cycle and land-atmosphere coupling. Currently, climate models often disagree with observations on the seasonal cycle of vegetation growth, partially due to how spring onset is measured and simulated. Here we use both thermal and leaf area index (LAI) based indicators to characterize spring onset in CMIP6 models. Although the historical timing varies considerably across models, most agree that spring has advanced in recent decades and will continue to arrive earlier with future warming. Across the Northern Hemisphere for the periods 1950-2014, 1981-2014, and 2015-2099, thermal-based indicators estimate spring advances of -0.7±0.2, -1.4±0.4, and -2.4±0.7 days/decade, while LAI-based indicators estimate -0.4±0.3, -0.1±0.3, and -1±1.1 days/decade. Thereby, LAI-based indicators exhibit later spring and weaker trends toward earlier onset, leading to index-related uncertainty being as large or larger than model uncertainty for a given index. Reconciling index-related discrepancies is therefore critical for understanding future changes in spring onset.