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Open AccessArticle

Changes in the Greenness of Mountain Pine (Pinus mugo Turra) in the Subalpine Zone Related to the Winter Climate

1
Earth Science Institute of the Slovak Academy of Sciences, Stará Lesná, 059 60 Tatranská Lomnica, Slovakia
2
National Forest Centre—Forest Research Institute, T.G. Masaryka 22, 960 01 Zvolen, Slovakia
3
Earth Science Institute of the Slovak Academy of Sciences, Ďumbierska 1, 974 11 Banská Bystrica, Slovakia
4
Faculty of Mathematics Physics and Informatics, Comenius University, Mlynská Dolina, 842 48 Bratislava, Slovakia
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: Lin Cao
Remote Sens. 2021, 13(9), 1788; https://doi.org/10.3390/rs13091788
Received: 22 March 2021 / Revised: 14 April 2021 / Accepted: 1 May 2021 / Published: 4 May 2021
In the current alteration of temperature and snow cover regimes, the impacts of winter climate have received considerably less attention than those of the vegetation period. In this study, we present the results demonstrating the influence of the winter climate conditions on the Mountain pine (Pinus mugo Turra) communities in High Tatra Mts (Western Carpathians). The changes in greenness in 2000–2020 were represented by the inter-annual differences of satellite-derived Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI). The winter climate conditions were characterized by climate indices calculated from the temperature and snow cover data measured at Skalnaté Pleso Observatory (1778 m a.s.l.) over the period between 1941–2020. Areas with P. mugo were classified into two density classes and five altitudinal zones of occurrence. The partial correlation analyses, which controlled the influence of summer climate, indicated that winter warm spells (WWS) caused a significant decrease in the greenness of the P. mugo thickets growing in the dense class D2 (R = −0.47) and in the altitudinal zones A2 (1600–1700 m a.s.l.) and A3 (1700–1800 m a.s.l.) with R = −0.54 for each zone. The changes in greenness were related to the average snow depth (ASD) as well, particularly in the dense class D2 (R = 0.45) and in the altitudinal zone A2 (R = 0.50). Here, in the summers following winters with the incidence of WWS or low ASD, we found decreased greenness following the injury of P. mugo shrubs, but NDVI after winters with higher ASD indicated more greenness. At lower altitudes, injuries may result in the loss of competition capacity of P. mugo near the timberline, where taller mountain tree species can utilize the conditions of warmer climate for expansion. We also found a significant positive effect of warmer winter seasons in the sparse P. mugo thickets (D1) with R = 0.50 and at higher altitudes (R = 0.49 in A4—1800–1900 m a.s.l.; R = 0.53 in A5—1900–2000 m a.s.l.). The increased temperatures in December correlated significantly with the increase of the greenness in all P. mugo pixels (R = 0.47), with the most pronounced effect in the sparse class D1 (R = 0.57) and in altitudinal zones A4 (R = 0.63) and A5 (R = 0.44), creating advantageous conditions for the thermophilisation of the alpine zone by P. mugo. View Full-Text
Keywords: vegetation index; NDVI; climate indices; climate change; snow depth; temperature; winter warm spells; mountain vegetation vegetation index; NDVI; climate indices; climate change; snow depth; temperature; winter warm spells; mountain vegetation
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MDPI and ACS Style

Lukasová, V.; Bucha, T.; Mareková, Ľ.; Buchholcerová, A.; Bičárová, S. Changes in the Greenness of Mountain Pine (Pinus mugo Turra) in the Subalpine Zone Related to the Winter Climate. Remote Sens. 2021, 13, 1788. https://doi.org/10.3390/rs13091788

AMA Style

Lukasová V, Bucha T, Mareková Ľ, Buchholcerová A, Bičárová S. Changes in the Greenness of Mountain Pine (Pinus mugo Turra) in the Subalpine Zone Related to the Winter Climate. Remote Sensing. 2021; 13(9):1788. https://doi.org/10.3390/rs13091788

Chicago/Turabian Style

Lukasová, Veronika; Bucha, Tomáš; Mareková, Ľubica; Buchholcerová, Anna; Bičárová, Svetlana. 2021. "Changes in the Greenness of Mountain Pine (Pinus mugo Turra) in the Subalpine Zone Related to the Winter Climate" Remote Sens. 13, no. 9: 1788. https://doi.org/10.3390/rs13091788

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