Reconciling the discrepancy in ground- and satellite-observed trends in the spring phenology of winter wheat in China from 1993 to 2008

Li Guo, Ning An, Kaicun Wang

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Monitoring crop phenology has become a growing concern for food security. Crop phenology can be traditionally observed at plot scale in the field or recently at a much larger scale by satellites. In this study, we compared the spring phenology of winter wheat (Triticum sp.), quantified as the timing of start-of-spring-season (SOS), using 8 km resolution satellite data and ground observations at 112 agrometeorological stations across China from 1993 to 2008. We found that ground and satellite observations displayed opposing trends in winter wheat SOS. Ground observation exhibited a delayed onset of SOS at 86% of ground stations, whereas satellite data suggested an earlier arrival of SOS at 78% of stations. The meteorological SOS calculated from daily air temperature supported the earlier occurrence of SOS indicated by satellite data. Moreover, satellite data showed more agreement with meteorological data with respect to interannual SOS variations than did field phenology records. Given the dominant control of air temperature on winter wheat’s spring phenology, satellite observation provides a reliable measure of the long-term trends and dynamics of SOS. Ground-observed SOS trends were impaired by data heterogeneity and limited spatial coverage. However, compared with ground observations, satellite-derived phenological timings are often lack of biological meanings. Therefore, integrating ground and satellite observations could enhance the monitoring of winter wheat SOS, which would increase the knowledge of vegetation’s response to the changing climate and help to optimize timely crop management.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1027-1042
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research
Issue number3
StatePublished - Feb 16 2016

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Geophysics
  • Oceanography
  • Forestry
  • Aquatic Science
  • Ecology
  • Water Science and Technology
  • Soil Science
  • Geochemistry and Petrology
  • Earth-Surface Processes
  • Atmospheric Science
  • Space and Planetary Science
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Palaeontology


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