Spatiotemporally representative Elementary Sampling Units (ESUs) are required for capturing the temporal variations in surface spatial heterogeneity through field measurements. Since inaccessibility often coexists with heterogeneity, a cost-efficient sampling design is mandatory. We proposed a sampling strategy to generate spatiotemporally representative and cost-efficient ESUs based on the conditioned Latin hypercube sampling scheme. The proposed strategy was constrained by multi-temporal Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI) imagery, and the ESUs were limited within a sampling feasible region established based on accessibility criteria. A novel criterion based on the Overlapping Area (OA) between the NDVI frequency distribution histogram from the sampled ESUs and that from the entire study area was used to assess the sampling efficiency. A case study in Wanglang National Nature Reserve in China showed that the proposed strategy improves the spatiotemporally representativeness of sampling (mean annual OA = 74.7%) compared to the single-temporally constrained (OA = 68.7%) and the random sampling (OA = 63.1%) strategies. The introduction of the feasible region constraint significantly reduces in-situ labour-intensive characterization necessities at expenses of about 9% loss in the spatiotemporal representativeness of the sampling. Our study will support the validation activities in Wanglang experimental site providing a benchmark for locating the nodes of automatic observation systems (e.g., LAINet) which need a spatially distributed and temporally fixed sampling design.
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