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Climate Change Pressures Growing Degree Days (Map Service)

posted on 2024-06-05, 12:54 authored by U.S. Forest Service
Evaluating multiple signals of climate change across the conterminous United States during three 30-year periods (2010�2039, 2040�2069, 2070�2099) during this century to a baseline period (1980�2009) emphasizes potential changes for growing degree days (GDD), plant hardiness zones (PHZ), and heat zones. These indices were derived using the CCSM4 and GFDL CM3 models under the representative concentration pathways 4.5 and 8.5, respectively, and included in Matthews et al. (2018). Daily temperature was downscaled by Maurer et al.�( at a 1/8 degree grid scale and used to obtain growing degree days, plant hardiness zones, and heat zones.�

Each of these indices provides unique information about plant health related to changes in climatic conditions that influence establishment, growth, and survival. These data and the calculated changes are provided as 14 individual IMG files for each index to assist with management planning and decision making into the future. For each of the four indices the following are included: two baseline files (1980�2009), three files representing 30-year periods for the scenario CCSM4 under RCP 4.5 along with three files of changes, and three files representing 30-year periods for the scenario GFDL CM3 under RCP 8.5 along with three files of changes. Growing degree days address an important component to general patterns of plant growth by accumulating the degree days across the growing season. This metric provides a level of detail related to defining the growing season potential. Here, we evaluate the accumulation of growing degree days at or above 5 �C (41 �F), assuming that limited growth occurs below 5 �C.�

Specifically, we calculate growing degree days by first calculating the average daily temperature, based on the maximum and minimum projected daily temperature. We then subtract 5 �C from each mean value and then accumulate the positive difference values for all days within each year. The mean GDD values for the conterminous United States during the baseline period ranged from less than 100 to over 7,000 degree days, increasing from north to south with highest values in the Florida panhandle, southern Texas, southwestern Arizona, and southeastern California. GDD projections throughout the century suggest a ubiquitous increase across the United States with slightly less change in the Northeast and much greater increases throughout the southern United States under the high scenario. Original data and associated metadata can be downloaded from this website:�

This record was taken from the USDA Enterprise Data Inventory that feeds into the catalog. Data for this record includes the following resources:
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Data contact name


Data contact email


U.S. Forest Service


  • Geospatial

Geographic Coverage


ISO Topic Category

  • environment

National Agricultural Library Thesaurus terms

Forestry, Wildland Management

OMB Bureau Code

  • 005:96 - Forest Service

OMB Program Code

  • 005:059 - Management Activities

Pending citation

  • No

Public Access Level

  • Public