The objective of this study is to analyse relationships between the start dates of spring phenological phases and large-scale atmospheric circulation patterns. The timing of phenological phases in temperate zones is driven by temperature, and temperature regime is generally determined by atmospheric circulation. The database analysed consists of the first dates of flowering of coltsfoot (Tussilago farfara L.), of birch (Betula pendula Roth.) leaf unfolding and of flowering of lilac (Syringa vulgaris L.); the North Atlantic oscillation (NAO) and the Arctic oscillation (AO) indices, frequencies of the circulation forms classified by Vangengeim and Girs, and of the groups of Grosswetterlagen presented by Hess and Brezowsky. The study area covers central and eastern Europe, and the period considered is 1951–98.
The results show that the influence of the westerly airflow is more pronounced in the winter half-year, and weakens and even disappears as spring advances. Phases have the highest correlation with NAO and AO indices during winter (December–March) and the first three months of the year (January–March), which have correlations stronger than −0.5 in the Baltic Sea region. Among the phenological phases, flowering of coltsfoot is the most strongly correlated with the NAO and AO indices, followed by leafing of birch and flowering of lilac. Airflow from the north and from the east has a greater influence in springtime, particularly in the northernmost and southernmost regions of the study area. Copyright © 2004 Royal Meteorological Society