MONITORING SPATIAL PATTERNS OF VEGETATION PHENOLOGY IN AN AUSTRALIAN TROPICAL TRANSECT USING MODIS EVI
Phenology is receiving increasing interest in the area of climate change and vegetation adaptation to climate. The phenology of a landscape can be used as a key parameter in land surface models and dynamic global vegetation models to more accurately simulate carbon, water and energy exchanges between land cover and atmosphere. However, the characterisation of phenology is lacking in tropical savannas which cover more than 30% of global land area, and are highly vulnerable to climate change. The objective of this study is to investigate the spatial pattern of vegetation phenology along the Northern Australia Tropical Transect (NATT) where the major biomes are wet and dry tropical savannas. For this analysis we used more than 11 years Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) Enhanced Vegetation Index (EVI) product from 2000 to 2011. Eight phenological metrics were derived: Start of Season (SOS), End of Season (EOS), Length of Season (LOS), Maximum EVI (MaxG), Minimum EVI (MinG), annual amplitude (AMP), large integral (LIG), and small integral (SIG) were generated for each year and each pixel. Our results showed there are significant spatial patterns and considerable interannual variations of vegetation phenology along the NATT study area. Generally speaking, vegetation growing season started and ended earlier in the north, and started and ended later in the south, resulting in a southward decrease of growing season length (LOS). Vegetation productivity, which was represented by annual integral EVI (LIG), showed a significant descending trend from the northern part of NATT to the southern part. Segmented regression analysis showed that there exists a distinguishable breakpoint along the latitudinal gradient, at least in terms of annual minimum EVI (EVI), which is located between 18.84 °S to 20.04 °S.