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Remote Sens. 2018, 10(9), 1482; https://doi.org/10.3390/rs10091482

Surface Moisture and Vegetation Cover Analysis for Drought Monitoring in the Southern Kruger National Park Using Sentinel-1, Sentinel-2, and Landsat-8

1
Department for Earth Observation, Institute of Geography, Friedrich-Schiller-University Jena, Loebdergraben 32, 07743 Jena, Germany
2
CSIR (Council for Scientific and Industrial Research), Meiring Naudé Road, Brummeria, Pretoria 0184, South Africa
3
Scientific Services, South African National Parks, Private Bag X402, Skukuza 1350, South Africa
4
Centre for African Ecology, School of Animal, Plant and Environmental Sciences, University of the Witwatersrand, Private Bag 3, Wits 2050, South Africa
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 27 July 2018 / Revised: 24 August 2018 / Accepted: 14 September 2018 / Published: 17 September 2018
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Remote Sensing of Drought Monitoring)
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Abstract

During the southern summer season of 2015 and 2016, South Africa experienced one of the most severe meteorological droughts since the start of climate recording, due to an exceptionally strong El Niño event. To investigate spatiotemporal dynamics of surface moisture and vegetation structure, data from ESA’s Copernicus Sentinel-1/-2 and NASA’s Landsat-8 for the period between March 2015 and November 2017 were utilized. In combination, these radar and optical satellite systems provide promising data with high spatial and temporal resolution. Sentinel-1 C-band data was exploited to derive surface moisture based on a hyper-temporal co-polarized (vertical-vertical—VV) radar backscatter change detection approach, describing dynamics between dry and wet seasons. Vegetation information from a TLS (Terrestrial Laser Scanner)-derived canopy height model (CHM), as well as the normalized difference vegetation index (NDVI) from Sentinel-2 and Landsat-8, were utilized to analyze vegetation structure types and dynamics with respect to the surface moisture index (SurfMI). Our results indicate that our combined radar–optical approach allows for a separation and retrieval of surface moisture conditions suitable for drought monitoring. Moreover, we conclude that it is crucial for the development of a drought monitoring system for savanna ecosystems to integrate land cover and vegetation information for analyzing surface moisture dynamics derived from Earth observation time series. View Full-Text
Keywords: drought monitoring; surface moisture; time series analysis; savanna ecosystems; Sentinel-1; NDVI; Sentinel-2; Landsat-8; Kruger National Park drought monitoring; surface moisture; time series analysis; savanna ecosystems; Sentinel-1; NDVI; Sentinel-2; Landsat-8; Kruger National Park
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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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Urban, M.; Berger, C.; Mudau, T.E.; Heckel, K.; Truckenbrodt, J.; Onyango Odipo, V.; Smit, I.P.J.; Schmullius, C. Surface Moisture and Vegetation Cover Analysis for Drought Monitoring in the Southern Kruger National Park Using Sentinel-1, Sentinel-2, and Landsat-8. Remote Sens. 2018, 10, 1482.

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