School of GeoSciences

School of GeoSciences

Phenological Camera Project

UK Japan 2008

This project has been awarded a 'UK-Japan 2008 Collaborative Project Grant Award' (Japanese) to commemorate the 150th anniversary of official diplomatic relations between Japan and the UK, showcasing the UK's contemporary creativity in science and innovation.

Project summary

Dates of leaf and flower appearance (“phenology”) have been carefully recorded by observers in the UK and Japan for many centuries (e.g. the Royal Court of Kyoto, since 750 A.D.). Sustained in a consistent way these records can reveal how plants respond to climate change. The data show, for example, that spring is arriving earlier, and the growth season is therefore increased. The data also records how the ability of forests to absorb carbon dioxide may be affected. As part of this bilateral project we will establish precision measurements of phenological events by mounting networked digital cameras (‘phenocams’) in UK forests. Our Japanese project partners developed this technique a few years ago in an initiative called the Phenological Eyes Network (PEN).  They automatically monitor the uptake and release of CO2 from the forest as well as obtaining images of the canopy, allowing us to discover how much CO2 leaf canopies absorb on a day-to-day basis. The aim of our project will be to develop these methods in the UK through collaboration with our Japanese partners, who will provide the training. This effort will provide the first UK sites within the wider global phenocam network.

Expected outcomes

A digital phenology camera system supplied by our Japanese partners will be installed in an Oak forest in England, and another one in Scotland. The digital information obtained will be compared to traditional phenology measurements. These forests also maintain a long record of CO2 measurements that can help us understand better the impact of phenological and climatic change on carbon sequestration for years to come. The results will be presented at an international conference in Oct 09.

Supervisory team


Study site and canopy image

    AliceHolt camera
    Jake Bryant@envirofoto™.com
    AliceHolt 2009-127
    AliceHolt 2009-181
    Griffin camera
    Toshie Mizunuma
    Griffin image 1
    Griffin image 2

Project Report

UK-Japan 2008 Collaborative Project Report: Installing a Phenological Camera