Swiss phenology network

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.

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. These dates are sent to MeteoSwiss twice a year, where they are then analysed. This process provides a suitable basis for examining the long-term impact of the climate on the vegetation. In order to enable assessments of current vegetation conditions, observers report certain phenophases immediately; these are assessed straight away and are used as the basis for reports on the present state of the vegetation.

The PhaenoNet Internet platform provides a new option for the quick transmission of phenological observations. The network allows the MeteoSwiss observers to enter their data online. 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.

Further information