The Swiss phenology network consists of 160 stations. Some 26 different plant species are observed in order to describe the vegetation development. On the basis of this information, it is possible to investigate the impact of climate change on the vegetation. The observations also serve to generate forecasting models for the start of blooming.
Swiss phenology network
Phenology is the study of the periodic growth and development phenomena of living organisms occurring over the course of a year. In the area of plant phenology, the start times of the so-called phenophases such as leaf unfolding, flowering and ripening as well as the changing colour and falling of leaves are observed and recorded. The phenology observation network exists in Switzerland since 1951. Today, a total of 26 plant species are observed at around 160 stations, with the observation protocol comprising 69 phenophases. The observed species and phases can be found in the observation form.
Current reports and long-term climate studies
The task of the observers is to record the date of the individual phases. The observers can either send their data to MeteoSchweiz twice a year on a form or submit their reports online right after they record their observation. This current data is assessed straight away and used as the basis for reports on the present state of the vegetation. The data submitted on the forms is analysed together with the online data and used to investigate the long-term impacts of the climate on the vegetation and for the annual overview.
Many of the observations are now submitted online. The results are shown on the PhaenoNet Internet platform: the observations submitted to MeteoSchweiz and observations collected as part of the GLOBE phenology programme can be viewed here. Interested individuals can also report their own observations using PhaenoNet. This provides MeteoSwiss with rapid access to a large volume of phenological data, enabling it to provide information on the current vegetation conditions.
Diverse areas of application for phenological observations
The results of phenological studies can be used in a variety of areas:
- The impact of climate change on vegetation can be shown.
- Forecasting models for the start of blooming can be generated, e.g. for pollen forecasts.
- Researchers can examine relationships with wildlife in connection with climate change.
- Those working in the field of ecosystem research can determine the time span and length of the vegetation period.