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Keywords:

  • global vegetation phenology;
  • MODIS data;
  • phenological metrics;
  • validation;
  • climate

[1] In the last two decades the availability of global remote sensing data sets has provided a new means of studying global patterns and dynamics in vegetation. The vast majority of previous work in this domain has used data from the Advanced Very High Resolution Radiometer, which until recently was the primary source of global land remote sensing data. In recent years, however, a number of new remote sensing data sources have become available that have significantly improved the capability of remote sensing to monitor global ecosystem dynamics. In this paper, we describe recent results using data from NASA's Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer to study global vegetation phenology. Using a novel new method based on fitting piecewise logistic models to time series data from MODIS, key transition dates in the annual cycle(s) of vegetation growth can be estimated in an ecologically realistic fashion. Using this method we have produced global maps of seven phenological metrics at 1-km spatial resolution for all ecosystems exhibiting identifiable annual phenologies. These metrics include the date of year for (1) the onset of greenness increase (greenup), (2) the onset of greenness maximum (maturity), (3) the onset of greenness decrease (senescence), and (4) the onset of greenness minimum (dormancy). The three remaining metrics are the growing season minimum, maximum, and summation of the enhanced vegetation index derived from MODIS. Comparison of vegetation phenology retrieved from MODIS with in situ measurements shows that these metrics provide realistic estimates of the four transition dates identified above. More generally, the spatial distribution of phenological metrics estimated from MODIS data is qualitatively realistic, and exhibits strong correspondence with temperature patterns in mid- and high-latitude climates, with rainfall seasonality in seasonally dry climates, and with cropping patterns in agricultural areas.