Climate Effects on Vertical Forest Phenology of Fagus sylvatica L., Sensed by Sentinel-2, Time Lapse Camera, and Visual Ground Observations
Contemporary climate change leads to earlier spring phenological events in Europe. In forests, in which overstory strongly regulates the microclimate beneath, it is not clear if further change equally shifts the timing of leaf unfolding for the over- and understory of main deciduous forest species, such as Fagus sylvatica L. (European beech). Furthermore, it is not known yet how this vertical phenological (mis)match—the phenological difference between overstory and understory—affects the
... y sensed satellite signal. To investigate this, we disentangled the start of season (SOS) of overstory F.sylvatica foliage from understory F. sylvatica foliage in forests, within nine quadrants of 5.8 × 5.8 km, stratified over a temperature gradient of 2.5 °C in Bavaria, southeast Germany, in the spring seasons of 2019 and 2020 using time lapse cameras and visual ground observations. We explained SOS dates and vertical phenological (mis)match by canopy temperature and compared these to Sentinel-2 derived SOS in response to canopy temperature. We found that overstory SOS advanced with higher mean April canopy temperature (visual ground observations: −2.86 days per °C; cameras: −2.57 days per °C). However, understory SOS was not significantly affected by canopy temperature. This led to an increase of vertical phenological mismatch with increased canopy temperature (visual ground observations: +3.90 days per °C; cameras: +2.52 days per °C). These results matched Sentinel-2-derived SOS responses, as pixels of higher canopy height advanced more by increased canopy temperature than pixels of lower canopy height. The results may indicate that, with further climate change, spring phenology of F. sylvatica overstory will advance more than F. sylvatica understory, leading to increased vertical phenological mismatch in temperate deciduous forests. This may have major ecological effects, but also methodological consequences for the field of remote sensing, as what the signal senses highly depends on the pixel mean canopy height and the vertical (mis)match.