Increasing human activities have caused significant global ecosystem disturbances at various scales. There is an increasing need for effective techniques to quantify and detect ecological changes. Remote sensing can serve as a measurement surrogate of spatial changes in ecological conditions. This study has improved a newly-proposed remote sensing based ecological index (RSEI) with a sharpened land surface temperature image and then used the improved index to produce the time series of ecological-status images. The Mann–Kendall test and Theil–Sen estimator were employed to evaluate the significance of the trend of the RSEI time series and the direction of change. The change vector analysis (CVA) was employed to detect ecological changes based on the image series. This RSEI-CVA approach was applied to Fujian province, China to quantify and detect the ecological changes of the province in a period from 2002 to 2017 using Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) data. The result shows that the RSEI-CVA method can effectively quantify and detect spatiotemporal changes in ecological conditions of the province, which reveals an ecological improvement in the province during the study period. This is indicated by the rise of mean RSEI scores from 0.794 to 0.852 due to an increase in forest area by 7078 km2
. Nevertheless, CVA-based change detection has detected ecological declines in the eastern coastal areas of the province. This study shows that the RSEI-CVA approach would serve as a prototype method to quantify and detect ecological changes and hence promote ecological change detection at various scales.
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