Assessing Phenological Shifts of Deciduous Forests in Turkey under Climate Change: An Assessment for Fagus orientalis with Daily MODIS Data for 19 Years

Şenel T., Kanmaz O., Bektaş Balçık F., AVCI M., Dalfes H. N.

Forests, vol.14, no.2, 2023 (SCI-Expanded) identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 14 Issue: 2
  • Publication Date: 2023
  • Doi Number: 10.3390/f14020413
  • Journal Name: Forests
  • Journal Indexes: Science Citation Index Expanded (SCI-EXPANDED), Scopus, Agricultural & Environmental Science Database, CAB Abstracts, Compendex, Environment Index, Geobase, Veterinary Science Database, Directory of Open Access Journals
  • Keywords: climate change, deciduous forest, Fagus orientalis, land surface phenology, MODIS, NDVI, phenological shift, Turkey
  • Istanbul Technical University Affiliated: Yes


Understanding how natural ecosystems are and will be responding to climate change is one of the primary goals of ecological research. Plant phenology is accepted as one of the most sensitive bioindicators of climate change due to its strong interactions with climate dynamics, and a vast number of studies from all around the world present evidence considering phenological shifts as a response to climatic changes. Land surface phenology (LSP) is also a valuable tool in the absence of observational phenology data for monitoring the aforementioned shift responses. Our aim was to investigate the phenological shifts of Fagus orientalis forests in Turkey by means of daily MODIS surface reflectance data (MOD09GA) for the period between 2002 and 2020. The normalized difference vegetation index (NDVI) was calculated for the entire Turkey extent. This extent was then masked for F. orientalis. These “Fagus pixels” were then filtered by a minimum of 80% spatial and an annual 20% temporal coverage. A combination of two methods was applied to the time series for smoothing and reconstruction and the start of season (SOS), end of season, and length of season parameters were extracted. Trends in these parameters over the 19-year period were analyzed. The results were in concert with the commonly reported earlier SOS pattern, by a Sen’s slope of −0.8 days year−1. Lastly, the relationships between SOS and mean, maximum and minimum temperature, growing degree days (GDD), and chilling hours (CH) were investigated. Results showed that the most significant correlations were found between the mean SOS trend and accumulated CH and accumulated GDD with a base temperature of 2 °C, both for the February–March interval. The immediate need for a phenological observation network in Turkey and its region is discussed.