How Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI) Trendsfrom Advanced Very High Resolution Radiometer (AVHRR) and Système Probatoire d'Observation de la Terre VEGETATION (SPOT VGT) Time Series Differ in Agricultural Areas: An Inner Mongolian Case Study
Detailed information from global remote sensing has greatly advanced our understanding of Earth as a system in general and of agricultural processes in particular. Vegetation monitoring with global remote sensing systems over long time periods is critical to gain a better understanding of processes related to agricultural change over long time periods. This specifically relates to sub-humid to semi-arid ecosystems, where agricultural change in grazing lands can only be detected based on long
... ed based on long time series. By integrating data from different sensors it is theoretically possible to construct NDVI time series back to the early 1980s. However, such integration is hampered by uncertainties in the comparability between different sensor products. To be able to rely on vegetation trends derived from integrated time series it is therefore crucial to investigate whether vegetation trends derived from NDVI and phenological parameters are consistent across products. In this paper we analyzed several indicators of vegetation change for a range of agricultural systems in Inner Mongolia, China, and compared the results across different satellite archives. Specifically, we compared two of the prime NDVI archives-AVHRR OPEN ACCESS Remote Sens. 2012, 4 3365 Global Inventory Modeling and Mapping Studies (GIMMS) and SPOT Vegetation (VGT) NDVI. Because a true accuracy assessment of long time series is not possible, we further compared SPOT VGT NDVI with NDVI from MODIS Terra as a benchmark. We found high similarities in interannual trends, and also in trends of the seasonal amplitude and integral between SPOT VGT and MODIS Terra (r > 0.9). However, we observed considerable disagreements in NDVI-derived trends between AVHRR GIMMS and SPOT VGT. We detected similar discrepancies for trends based on phenological parameters, such as amplitude and integral of NDVI curves corresponding to seasonal vegetation cycles. Inconsistencies were partially related to land cover and vegetation density. Different pre-processing schemes and the coarser spatial resolution of AVHRR GIMMS introduced further uncertainties. Our results corroborate findings from other studies that vegetation trends derived from AVHRR GIMMS data not always reflect true vegetation changes. A more thorough understanding of the factors introducing uncertainties in AVHRR GIMMS time series is needed, and we caution against using AVHRR GIMMS data in regional studies without applying regional sensitivity analyses.