Impact of Climate Change on Phenology in Ireland - PhenoClimate

Climate change has resulted in shifts in the timing of spring phenological events, such as leaf unfolding, flowering, leaf senescence, bird migration and insect activity. Since spring and autumn leaf phenological events limit the period of photosynthetic activity and thereby the growing season, they also determine the ability of deciduous trees to sequester carbon. In addition, climate change influences phenology at all trophic levels, but differences in the responses of organisms can result in phenological mismatches, with potential negative impacts on biodiversity. In this project, we determine the impact of climate change on several phenological events across different flora and fauna using current and historic datasets (ground observations, citizen science and satellite remote sensing). In addition to using Landsat satellite imagery to monitor past vegetation responses, we are exploring the use of new satellite technology (including Sentinel-2) at highly resolved spatial and temporal scales. The data is validated using ground observations of leaf phenological events and “greenness” automatically recorded using digital cameras (phenocams). In addition, we are comparing phenological shifts in flowering (based on pollen data), insect and bird activity to determine impacts of climate change on Irish biodiversity, and to investigate the biotic interactions among these different taxa.

PhenoClimate Infographic


Donnelly A., Liu L., Zhang X. & Wingler A. (2018) Autumn leaf phenology: discrepancies between in situ observations and satellite data at urban and rural sites. International Journal of Remote Sensing 39: 8129-8150

Holloway P., Kudenko D. & Bell J.R. (2018) Dynamic selection of environmental variables to improve the prediction of aphid phenology: A machine learning approach. Ecological Indicators 88: 512-521

O'Connor B., Dwyer E., Cawkwell F. & Eklundh L. (2012) Spatio-temporal patterns in vegetation start of season across the island of Ireland using the MERIS Global Vegetation Index. ISPRS Journal of Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing 68: 79-94

PhenoClimate Project Factsheet


This project is funded under the EPA Research Programme 2014-2020. The EPA Research Programme is a Government of Ireland initiative funded by the Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment.


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Environmental Protection Agency, Ireland


Astrid Wingler (Lead-PI, UCC), Fiona Cawkwell (PI, UCC), Paul Holloway (PI, UCC), David O’Connor (PI, TU Dublin), Guy Serbin (PI, EOAnalytics), Gourav Misra (post-doc, UCC), Jose Manzano (post-doc, TU Dublin)


Climate Action, Healthy Environment



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