Early growing season anomalies in vegetation activity determine the large‐scale climate‐vegetation coupling in Europe

Minchao Wu, Giulia Vico, Stefano Manzoni, Zhanzhang Cai, Bassiouni Maoya, Feng Tian, jie zhang, kunhui ye, Gabriele Messori

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The climate-vegetation coupling exerts a strong control on terrestrial carbon budgets and will affect the future evolution of global climate under continued anthropogenic forcing. Nonetheless, the effects of climatic conditions on such coupling at specific times in the growing season remain poorly understood. We quantify the climate-vegetation coupling in Europe over 1982–2014 at multiple spatial and temporal scales, by decomposing sub-seasonal anomalies of vegetation greenness using a grid-wise definition of the growing season. We base our analysis on long-term vegetation indices (Normalized Difference Vegetation Index and two-band Enhanced Vegetation Index), growing conditions (including 2m temperature, downwards surface solar radiation, and root-zone soil moisture), and multiple teleconnection indices that reflect the large-scale climatic conditions over Europe. We find that the large-scale climate-vegetation coupling during the first two months of the growing season largely determines the full-year coupling. The North Atlantic Oscillation and Scandinavian Pattern phases one-to-two months before the start of the growing season are the dominant and contrasting drivers of the early growing season climate-vegetation coupling over large parts of boreal and temperate Europe. The East Atlantic Pattern several months in advance of the growing season exerts a strong control on the temperate belt and the Mediterranean region. The strong role of early growing season anomalies in vegetative activity within the growing season emphasizes the importance of a grid-wise definition of the growing season when studying the large-scale climate-vegetation coupling in Europe.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere2020JG006167
Number of pages19
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research: Biogeosciences
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 2021

Subject classification (UKÄ)

  • Physical Geography
  • Climate Research


  • carbon cycle
  • climate-vegetation coupling
  • early growing season
  • Europe
  • greenness anomalies
  • vegetation index


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