Anderson, LO, Malhi, Y, Aragao, LEOC, Ladle, R, Arai, E, Barbier, N, Phillips, O (2010). Remote sensing detection of droughts in Amazonian forest canopies. NEW PHYTOLOGIST, 187(3), 733-750.
P>Remote sensing data are a key tool to assess large forested areas, where limitations such as accessibility and lack of field measurements are prevalent. Here, we have analysed datasets from moderate resolution imaging spectroradiometer (MODIS) satellite measurements and field data to assess the impacts of the 2005 drought in Amazonia. We combined vegetation indices (VI) and climatological variables to evaluate the spatiotemporal patterns associated with the 2005 drought, and explore the relationships between remotely-sensed indices and forest inventory data on tree mortality. There were differences in results based on c4 and c5 MODIS products. C5 VI showed no spatial relationship with rainfall or aerosol optical depth; however, distinct regions responded significantly to the increased radiation in 2005. The increase in the Enhanced VI (EVI) during 2005 showed a significant positive relationship (P < 0.07) with the increase of tree mortality. By contrast, the normalized difference water index (NDWI) exhibited a significant negative relationship (P < 0.09) with tree mortality. Previous studies have suggested that the increase in EVI during the 2005 drought was associated with a positive response of forest photosynthesis to changes in the radiation income. We discuss the evidence that this increase could be related to structural changes in the canopy.