Hao Wang 1 , 2 , Huiying Liu 2 , Guangmin Cao 3 , Zhiyuan Ma 2 , Yikang Li 3 , Fawei Zhang 3 , Xia Zhao 4 , Xinquan Zhao 3 , Lin Jiang 5 , Nathan J. Sanders 6 , Aimée T. Classen 7 , 8 , Jin‐Sheng He , 1 , 2
12 February 2020
Satellite data indicate significant advancement in alpine spring phenology over decades of climate warming, but corresponding field evidence is scarce. It is also unknown whether this advancement results from an earlier shift of phenological events, or enhancement of plant growth under unchanged phenological pattern. By analyzing a 35‐year dataset of seasonal biomass dynamics of a Tibetan alpine grassland, we show that climate change promoted both earlier phenology and faster growth, without changing annual biomass production. Biomass production increased in spring due to a warming‐induced earlier onset of plant growth, but decreased in autumn due mainly to increased water stress. Plants grew faster but the fast‐growing period shortened during the mid‐growing season. These findings provide the first in situ evidence of long‐term changes in growth patterns in alpine grassland plant communities, and suggest that earlier phenology and faster growth will jointly contribute to plant growth in a warming climate.