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Remote Sens. 2013, 5(1), 327-341; doi:10.3390/rs5010327
Article

Vegetation Index Differencing for Broad-Scale Assessment of Productivity Under Prolonged Drought and Sequential High Rainfall Conditions

1,*  and 2
1 Jornada Experimental Range, US Department of Agriculture, Agriculture Research Service, P.O. Box 30003 MSC3JER, Las Cruces, NM 88003, USA 2 Jornada Experimental Range, New Mexico State University, P.O. Box 30003 MSC3JER, Las Cruces, NM 88003, USA
* Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 16 November 2012 / Revised: 27 December 2012 / Accepted: 6 January 2013 / Published: 17 January 2013
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Abstract

Spatially-explicit depictions of plant productivity over large areas are critical to monitoring landscapes in highly heterogeneous arid ecosystems. Applying radiometric change detection techniques we sought to determine whether: (1) differences between pre- and post-growing season spectral vegetation index values effectively identify areas of significant change in vegetation; and (2) areas of significant change coincide with altered ecological states. We differenced NDVI values, standardized difference values to Z-scores to identify areas of significant increase and decrease in NDVI, and examined the ecological states associated with these areas. The vegetation index differencing method and translation of growing season NDVI to Z-scores permit examination of change over large areas and can be applied by non-experts. This method identified areas with potential for vegetation/ecological state transition and serves to guide field reconnaissance efforts that may ultimately inform land management decisions for millions of acres of federal lands.
Keywords: change detection; rangeland monitoring; Landsat; ecological state mapping; state-and-transition models; phenology change detection; rangeland monitoring; Landsat; ecological state mapping; state-and-transition models; phenology
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

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MDPI and ACS Style

Browning, D.M.; Steele, C.M. Vegetation Index Differencing for Broad-Scale Assessment of Productivity Under Prolonged Drought and Sequential High Rainfall Conditions. Remote Sens. 2013, 5, 327-341.

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