Main content area

Variability of growing degree days in Poland in response to ongoing climate changes in Europe

Wypych, Agnieszka, Sulikowska, Agnieszka, Ustrnul, Zbigniew, Czekierda, Danuta
International journal of biometeorology 2017 v.61 no.1 pp. 49-59
air temperature, apples, bioclimatology, cherries, climate change, crops, flowering, frost, growing season, heat sums, orchards, perennials, phenology, plums, ripening, spring, Poland
An observed increase in air temperature can lead to significant changes in the phenology of plants and, consequently, changes in agricultural production. The aim of the study was to evaluate the spatial differentiation of thermal resources in Poland and their variability during a period of changing thermal conditions in Europe. Since the variability of thermal conditions is of paramount importance for perennial crops, the study focused on apple, plum, and cherry orchard regions in Poland. The analysis was conducted for the period of 1951–2010 using air temperature daily data. Thermal resources have been defined using the growing degree days (GDD) index calculated independently for the whole year and during in frost-free season for three air temperature thresholds: 0, 5, and 10 °C, which determine the non-winter period, growing season, and the period of full plant growth, respectively. In addition, due to the high significance for perennials in particular, the incidence and intensity of frost during flowering were calculated. In this study, a detailed analysis of the spatial differentiation of thermal resources was first performed, followed by an evaluation of long-term variability and associated change patterns. The obtained results confirmed an increase in thermal resources in Poland as a consequence of the lengthening of the growing season. However, the frequency and intensity of spring frost, especially during flowering or even during ripening of plants, remain a threat to harvests in both the eastern and western parts of the country.