International Society of Biometeorology

Phenology Commission

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The First International Cherry Blossom Prediction Competition: Phenology 2022 – Phenology at the crossroads


We are pleased to announce a new international prediction competition “When will the cherry trees bloom?” Compete for prizes of up to $5,000 and help scientists better understand the impacts of climate change! The competition is open to all.

The competition organizers will provide all the publicly available data on the bloom date of cherry trees they can find. Competitors will use this data, in combination with any other publicly available data, to create reproducible predictions of the bloom dates at four locations around the globe.

The competition is open throughout February 2022 and seeks statisticians and data scientists of all levels, from experts to students just beginning to use statistical software. Complete submissions include a short narrative and a link to a publicly accessible Git repository.

For complete details or to contact the organizers, please visit A recording of the kickoff event will be made available on the competition website.

A big thanks to the American Statistical Association, Caucus for Women in Statistics, George Mason University’s Department of Statistics, and Columbia University’s Department of Statistics for their support, and partnerships with the International Society of Biometeorology, MeteoSwiss, USA National Phenology Network, and the Vancouver Cherry Blossom Festival—as well as Mason’s Institute for Digital InnovAtion, Institute for a Sustainable Earth, and the Department of Modern and Classical Languages. Sponsors and partners will be updated on the website.

Organizers: Jonathan Auerbach and David Kepplinger (George Mason University) and Elizabeth Wolkovich (University of British Columbia)


Vegetation dynamics like growth, reproduction, winter rest, competition for nutrients, water, and light are strongly influenced and determined by climate variables. A change in climate will result in a change of these dynamics. A scientific discipline, which is able to link vegetation dynamics with climate variables, is phenology. Phenology is the study of periodic plant and animal life cycle events and how these are influenced by seasonal and interannual variations in climate. Examples include flowering, budburst, insect hatching, bird nesting, fruit ripening, and leaf fall (so called phenophases). Numerous studies have already provided insight into the relationship between climate variables and the timing of these phenophases. In the context of climate change, phenology also provides indicators for ecosystem responses and has clearly shown that plants and animals are already responding to observed increases in global mean temperature. The climate-induced changes in vegetation dynamics will have an impact on all kinds of species-species interactions and eventually on ecosystem composition and structure. Thus, biodiversity will change in response. The theory is that expected future changes in climate will continue to change vegetation dynamics and biodiversity. In order to effectively assess regional changes in biodiversity, extensive multi-species inventories across climatic gradients are required.


  • To increase our understanding of the role of climate variables in vegetation dynamics;
  • To develop a combined observational program configured to be sensitive to modifications in plant/animal phenology and biodiversity changes which is able to form an effective system for early detection and warning of impending global-scale changes in ecosystems;
  • To strategically deploy new and augment existing observational networks, initially in mid latitudes;
  • Contribute to the combined objectives of the Framework Convention on Climate Change (FCCC), especially adaptation, and the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD)

For more information about the Phenology Commission, please contact Marie Keatley (mrk[at] who serves as Commission Chair.