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Assessment of rainfall and NDVI anomalies in Spain (1989-1999) using distributed lag models

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In this study a link was established between anomalies in climatic and Advanced Very High Resolution Radiometer (AVHRR)/Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI) data in Spain for the period from 1989 to 1999 on a monthly and annual basis using multivariate distributed lag (DL) models and generalized least-square (GLS) parameter estimation. In most areas significant time-delayed correlation between anomalies of monthly rainfall and NDVI data was confined to an interval of 1 month. Locally higher lag orders of up to 3 months were found. By contrast, relationships between surface temperature and the NDVI were insignificant in the multivariate context at most locations. The multiple correlation coefficients of the DL models achieved 0.6 in the maximum. Regions characterized by the most significant NDVI-rainfall correlations include the southern forelands of the Pyrenees in Cataluna, rainfed agricultural areas in Extremadura, Andalusia, and the western parts of Castilla y Leon. Average ratios of rainfall to potential evapotranspiration (PET) in the sensitive areas ranged between 0.5 and 2, with annual rainfall amounts less than 700 mm. For each land-cover class a linear discriminant analysis (LDA) was carried out to assess the environmental factors that might explain the differences in the NDVI-rainfall relationships. The highest discriminant coefficients and factor loadings were recorded for those factors that recurrently trigger water deficit in the sensitive regions, such as low total annual rainfall, large seasonal rainfall variability, high average PET and surface temperature. On the annual basis the lagged correlation of the NDVI and rainfall data was confined to natural vegetation (grassland and scrubland) areas in western Spain. This region suffered from a severe drought in the early 1990s, after which biomass production lagged several years behind improved rainfall conditions. The approach presented is useful for assessing the influence of climatic variables on the pattern of temporal anomalies in the NDVI or related vegetation parameters.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Centre de Recherche Public - Gabriel Lippmann, L-4422, Belvaux, Luxembourg 2: Department of Remote Sensing, University of Trier, D-54286 Trier, Germany 3: Estacion Experimental de Zonas Aridas (EEZA), Almeria, Spain

Publication date: 2009-04-01

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