Understanding trends in vegetation phenology and growing season productivity at a regional scale is important for global change studies, particularly as linkages can be made between climate shifts and the vegetation’s potential to sequester or release carbon into the atmosphere. Trends and geographic patterns of change in vegetation growth and phenology from the MODerate resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) satellite data sets were analyzed for the state of Alaska over the period 2000 to 2018. Phenology metrics derived from the MODIS Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI) time-series at 250 m resolution tracked changes in the total integrated greenness cover (TIN), maximum annual NDVI (MAXN), and start of the season timing (SOST) date over the past two decades. SOST trends showed significantly earlier seasonal vegetation greening (at more than one day per year) across the northeastern Brooks Range Mountains, on the Yukon-Kuskokwim coastal plain, and in the southern coastal areas of Alaska. TIN and MAXN have increased significantly across the western Arctic Coastal Plain and within the perimeters of most large wildfires of the Interior boreal region that burned since the year 2000, whereas TIN and MAXN have decreased notably in watersheds of Bristol Bay and in the Cook Inlet lowlands of southwestern Alaska, in the same regions where earlier-trending SOST was also detected. Mapping results from this MODIS time-series analysis have identified a new database of localized study locations across Alaska where vegetation phenology has recently shifted notably, and where land cover types and ecosystem processes could be changing rapidly.
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