Understanding the canopy cover relationship with canopy water content and canopy temperature in the Miombo ecosystem is important for studying the consequences of climate change. To better understand these relationships, we studied the satellite data-based land surface temperature (LST) as proxy for canopy temperature, leaf area index (LAI), and the normalized difference vegetation index (NDVI) as proxies for canopy cover. Meanwhile, the normalized difference infrared index (NDII) was used as a proxy for canopy water content. We used several statistical approaches including the correlated component regression linear model (CCR.LM) to understand the relationships. Our results showed that the most determinant factor of variations in the canopy cover was the interaction between canopy water content (i.e., NDII) and canopy temperature (i.e., LST) with coefficients of determination (R2
) ranging between 0.67 and 0.96. However, the coefficients of estimates showed the canopy water content (i.e., NDII) to have had the largest percentage of the interactive effect on the variations in canopy cover regardless of the proxy used i.e., LAI or NDVI. From 2009–2018, the NDII (proxy for canopy water content) showed no significant (at alpha level 0.05) trend. However, there was a significant upward trend in LST (proxy for canopy temperature) with a magnitude of 0.17 °C/year. Yet, the upward trend in LST did not result in significant (at alpha level 0.05) downward changes in canopy cover (i.e., proxied by LAI and NDVI). This result augments the observed least determinant factor characterization of temperature (i.e., LST) on the variations in canopy cover as compared to the vegetation water content (i.e., NDII).
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