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Remote Sens. 2015, 7(7), 9390-9409;

Characterising the Land Surface Phenology of Europe Using Decadal MERIS Data

Physical Geography and Regional Geographic Analysis, University of Seville, Seville 41004, Spain
Global Environmental Change and Earth Observation Research Group, Geography and Environment, University of Southampton, Southampton SO17 1BJ, UK
Faculty of Science and Technology, Engineering Building, Lancaster University, Lancaster LA1 4YR, UK
Faculty of Geosciences, University of Utrecht, Heidelberglaan 2, Utrecht 3584 CS, The Netherlands
School of Geography, Archaeology and Palaeoecology, Queen’s University Belfast, Belfast BT7 1NN, Northern Ireland, UK
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editors: Clement Atzberger and Prasad S. Thenkabail
Received: 5 April 2015 / Revised: 9 July 2015 / Accepted: 15 July 2015 / Published: 22 July 2015
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Land surface phenology (LSP), the study of the timing of recurring cycles of changes in the land surface using time-series of satellite sensor-derived vegetation indices, is a valuable tool for monitoring vegetation at global and continental scales. Characterisation of LSP and its spatial variation is required to reveal and predict ongoing changes in Earth system dynamics. This study presents and analyses the LSP of the pan-European continent for the last decade, considering three phenological metrics: onset of greenness (OG), end of senescence (EOS), and length of season (LS). The whole time-series of Multi-temporal Medium Resolution Imaging Spectrometer (MERIS) Terrestrial Chlorophyll Index (MTCI) data at 1 km spatial resolution was used to estimate the phenological metrics. Results show a progressive pattern in phenophases from low to high latitudes. OG dates are distributed widely from the end of December to the end of May. EOS dates range from the end of May to the end of January and the spatial distribution is generally the inverse of that of the OG. Shorter growing seasons (approximately three months) are associated with rainfed croplands in Western Europe, and forests in boreal and mountainous areas. Maximum LS values appear in the Atlantic basin associated with grasslands. The LSP maps presented in this study are supported by the findings of a previous study where OG and EOS estimates were compared to those of the pan-European phenological network at certain locations corresponding to numerous observations of deciduous tree plant species. Moreover, the spatio-temporal pattern of the OG and EOS produced close agreement with the dates of deciduous tree leaf unfolding and autumnal colouring, respectively (pseudo R-squared equal to 0.70 and 0.71 and root mean square error of six days (over 365 days)). View Full-Text
Keywords: land surface phenology; MTCI; biogeographical regions; land covers; spring; autumn land surface phenology; MTCI; biogeographical regions; land covers; spring; autumn

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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. (CC BY 4.0).

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Rodriguez-Galiano, V.F.; Dash, J.; Atkinson, P.M. Characterising the Land Surface Phenology of Europe Using Decadal MERIS Data. Remote Sens. 2015, 7, 9390-9409.

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