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Differences in monitoring vegetation dynamics between Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer Collection 5 and Collection 6 vegetation index products on the Loess Plateau, China

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Accurately monitoring vegetation dynamics on the Loess Plateau (LP) is critical for evaluating the benefits of ecological restoration projects. The Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) vegetation index (VI) product has been a primary data source for monitoring vegetation dynamics. However, MODIS Collection 5 (C5) VI products are known to be affected by sensor degradation, which has been addressed in the newly released MODIS Collection 6 (C6) VI products. Herein, we compared the spatiotemporal differences in vegetation dynamics between the Terra MODIS C5 and C6 data products and among different annual value retrieval methods for the LP during 2001–2016. Our results indicated a lower magnitude but a greener trend in the normalized difference vegetation index (NDVI), and areas with significant greening (p < 0.050) were found to increase by about 13%–16% from C5 to C6, depending on the retrieval method. Regions with either no particular trend or a downward trend in vegetation derived from the Terra-C5 NDVI mostly showed significant increasing trends based on the Terra-C6 NDVI. Moreover, the different retrieval methods also exhibited differences in the evaluation of vegetation dynamics, with the largest differences in terms of both magnitude and trend being identified with the annual maximum value method. This highlighted a compelling need to choose suitable methods in different regions for the retrieval of annual VI values, in order to facilitate more robust and comparable conclusions. Additionally, discrepancies also existed in the response of vegetation to climate variations between the Terra-C5 and C6 products for all three annual VI retrieval methods. Our findings, based on multiple products and analysis methods, may lead to improved understanding of both vegetation dynamics and their linkage to climate variables. The results suggest that caution be utilized when using only MODIS Terra-C5 products to evaluate vegetation dynamics and calibrate ecosystem models.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: School of Geography and Tourism, Shaanxi Normal University, Xi’an, China 2: College of Geomatics, Xi’an University of Science and Technology, Xi’an, China

Publication date: August 3, 2019

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