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Remote Sens. 2017, 9(6), 630; doi:10.3390/rs9060630

Linking Spaceborne and Ground Observations of Autumn Foliage Senescence in Southern Québec, Canada

1
Institute of Soil, Water and Environmental Sciences, Agricultural Research Organization, Volcani Center, HaMaccabim Road 68, P.O. Box 15159, Rishon LeZion 7528809, Israel
2
Department of Bioresource Engineering, McGill University, Macdonald Campus 21, 111 Lakeshore Road, Ste-Anne-de-Bellevue, Montreal, QC H9X 3V9, Canada
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 26 April 2017 / Revised: 6 June 2017 / Accepted: 15 June 2017 / Published: 21 June 2017
(This article belongs to the Section Forest Remote Sensing)
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Abstract

Autumn senescence progresses over several weeks during which leaves change their colors. The onset of leaf coloring and its progression have environmental and economic consequences, however, very few efforts have been devoted to monitoring regional foliage color change in autumn using remote sensing imagery. This study aimed to monitor the progression of autumn phenology using satellite remote sensing across a region in Southern Québec, Canada, where phenological observations are frequently performed in autumn across a large number of sites, and to evaluate the satellite retrievals against these in-situ observations. We used a temporally-normalized time-series of Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI) extracted from Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) imagery to monitor the different phases of autumn foliage during 2011–2015, and compared the results with ground observations from 38 locations. Since the NDVI time-series is separately normalized per pixel, the outcome is a time-series of foliage coloration status that is independent of the land cover. The results show a significant correlation between the timing of peak autumn coloration to elevation and latitude, but not to longitude, and suggest that temperature is likely a main driver of variation in autumn foliage progression. The interannual coloration phase differences for MODIS retrievals are larger than for ground observations, but most ground site observations correlate significantly with MODIS retrievals. The mean absolute error for the timing of all foliage phases is smaller than the frequency of both ground observation reports and the frequency of the MODIS NDVI time-series, and therefore considered acceptable. Despite this, the observations at four of the ground sites did not correspond well with the MODIS retrievals, and therefore we conclude that further methodological refinements to improve the quality of the time series are required for MODIS spatial monitoring of autumn phenology over Québec to be operationally employed in a reliable manner. View Full-Text
Keywords: autumn; foliage; remote sensing; MODIS; brownness index autumn; foliage; remote sensing; MODIS; brownness index
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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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MDPI and ACS Style

Rozenstein, O.; Adamowski, J. Linking Spaceborne and Ground Observations of Autumn Foliage Senescence in Southern Québec, Canada. Remote Sens. 2017, 9, 630.

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