Analysis of the temporal and spatial vegetation patterns in a semi-arid environment observed by NOAA AVHRR imagery and spectral ground measurements
The borderline between Israel and Sinai is characterized by a sharp contrast that is caused by the low spectral reflectance on the Israeli side (Negev desert) and the high spectral reflectance on the bare Egyptian side (Sinai desert). This contrast across the political border has been discussed in many publications over the last two decades. In this study, satellite images acquired by NOAA Advanced Very High Resolution Radiometer (AVHRR) over a time period of 3 years (June 1995 to June 1998) were analysed. In addition, extensive field studies were carried out on the Israel side of the border. The current research shows that the reflectance values in Sinai seem to be quite stable over the entire year, however reflectance values in the Negev show a significant difference between the dry and the rainy seasons. Comparison between the AVHRR-derived Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI ) values and rainfall data from the Negev shows that the highest AVHRR-derived NDVI values occur a few weeks after the main rainfall. Field observations, based on spectrometer measurements of different surface components (bare sands, biological soil crusts, annuals, and perennials) and estimation of vegetation cover on the Israeli side of the border, show that the peak NDVI of the perennials occurs at the same time as the satellite observed peak. The spectral difference between both sides of the border during the dry season is caused by the dense cover of the higher vegetation and the biological soil crusts and by the photosynthetic activity of perennials during the dry season. The highest difference between both sides during the rainy season is caused by the photosynthetic activity and vegetation cover of the annuals and perennials.