LiDAR derived topography and forest stand characteristics largely explain the spatial variability observed in MODIS land surface phenology

Gourav Misra*, Allan Buras, Marco Heurich, Sarah Asam, Annette Menzel

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

In the past, studies have successfully identified climatic controls on the temporal variability of the land surface phenology (LSP). Yet we lack a deeper understanding of the spatial variability observed in LSP within a land cover type and the factors that control it. Here we make use of a high resolution LiDAR based dataset to study the effect of subpixel forest stand characteristics on the spatial variability of LSP metrics based on MODIS NDVI. Multiple linear regression techniques (MLR) were applied on forest stand information and topography derived from LiDAR as well as land cover information (i.e. CORINE and proprietary habitat maps for the year 2012) to predict average LSP metrics of the mountainous Bavarian Forest National Park, Germany. Six different LSP metrics, i.e. start of season (SOS), end of season (EOS), length of season (LOS), NDVI integrated over the growing season (NDVIsum), maximum NDVI value (NDVImax) and day of maximum NDVI (maxDOY) were modelled in this study. It was found that irrespective of the land cover, the mean SOS, LOS and NDVIsum were largely driven by elevation. However, inclusion of detailed forest stand information improved the models considerably. The EOS however was more complex to model, and the subpixel percentage of broadleaf forests and the slope of the terrain were found to be more strongly linked to EOS. The explained variance of the NDVImax improved from 0.45 to 0.71 when additionally considering land cover information, which further improved to 0.84 when including LiDAR based subpixelforest stand characteristics. Since completely homogenous pixels are rare in nature, our results suggest that incorporation of subpixel forest stand information along with land cover type leads to an improved performance of topography based LSP models. The novelty of this study lies in the use of topography, land cover and subpixel vegetation characteristics derived from LiDAR in a stepwise manner with increasing level of complexity, which demonstrates the importance of forest stand information on LSP at the pixel level.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)231-244
JournalRemote Sensing of Environment
Volume218
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2018

Keywords

  • Bavarian Forest National Park
  • Forest stand characteristics
  • Land cover
  • LiDAR
  • Modelling
  • Mountains
  • NDVI
  • Phenology
  • Spatial variability

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