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Trends in vegetation NDVI from 1 km AVHRR data over Canada for the period 1985-2006

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Long-term changes in the Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI) have been evaluated in several studies but results have not been conclusive due to differences in data processing as well as the length and time of the analysed period. In this research a newly developed 1 km Advanced Very High Resolution Radiometer (AVHRR) satellite data record for the period 1985-2006 was used to rigorously evaluate NDVI trends over Canada. Furthermore, climate and land cover change as potential causes of observed trends were evaluated in eight sample regions. The AVHRR record was generated using improved geolocation, cloud screening, correction for sun-sensor viewing geometry, atmospheric correction, and compositing. Results from both AVHRR and Landsat revealed an increasing NDVI trend over northern regions where comparison was possible. Overall, 22% of the vegetated area in Canada was found to have a positive NDVI trend based on the Mann-Kendal test at the 95% confidence level. Of these, 40% were in northern ecozones. The mean absolute difference of NDVI measurements between AVHRR and Landsat data was <7%. When compared with results from other studies, similar trends were found over northern areas, while in southern regions the results were less consistent. Local assessment of potential causes of trends in each region revealed a stronger influence of climate in the north compared to the south. Southern regions with strong positive trends appeared to be most influenced by land cover change.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Natural Resources Canada, Canada Centre for Remote Sensing, Ontario, Canada

Publication date: January 1, 2009

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