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Influence of solar zenith angles on observed trends in the NOAA/NASA 8‐km Pathfinder normalized difference vegetation index over the African Sahel

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The strong systematic change in solar zenith angles (SZA) due to annual orbital drift of the NOAA satellites has raised the suspicion of the influence of residual illumination on the calibrated normalized difference vegetation index (NDVI) derived from the Pathfinder AVHRR Land (PAL) database. The aim of this work is to analyse if trends in AVHRR NDVI from 1982 to 2000 over the Sahel region in Africa depend on variations in SZA. The analysis uses both ordinary least squares regression and cointegration to analyse possible linear dependencies between NDVI and SZA on a per satellite basis. Tests for integration and cointegration fail to find any significant evidence for either. This, together with the ability of simple deterministic models to explain primarily SZA constitutes evidence against integration and cointegration, indicating that linear relationships can be examined using ordinary linear regression. Regression gives no consistent relationship between NDVI and SZA and the explanatory power ( R 2 ) of the regression is low (on average 0.08). However there is some evidence for downward bias in NDVI due to nonlinear interactions between NDVI and SZA when SZA is large (≥80°) leading to the conclusion that PAL data from the year 2000 should not be used for analyses in these environments.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Mathematical Statistics, Centre for Mathematical Sciences, Lund University, Lund, Sweden 2: Department of Physical Geography and Ecosystems Analysis, GeoBiosphere Science Centre, Lund University, Lund, Sweden

Publication date: 2006-05-01

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