Dash, J, Jeganathan, C, Atkinson, PM (2010). The use of MERIS Terrestrial Chlorophyll Index to study spatio-temporal variation in vegetation phenology over India. REMOTE SENSING OF ENVIRONMENT, 114(7), 1388-1402.
India has a diverse set of vegetation types ranging from tropical evergreen to dry deciduous. The phenology of these natural vegetation types is often controlled by climatic condition. Estimating phenological variables will help in understanding the response of tropical and subtropical vegetation to climate change. The study investigated the annual and inter-annual variation in vegetation phenology in India using satellite remote sensing. The study used time-series data of the only available satellite measured index of terrestrial chlorophyll content (MERIS Terrestrial Chlorophyll Index) from 2003 to 2007 at 4.6 km spatial resolution. A strong coincidence was observed with expected phenological pattern, in particular, in inter-annual and latitudinal variability of key phenological variables. For major natural vegetation type the onset of greenness had greater latitudinal variation compared to the end of senescence and there was a small or no leafless period. In the 2003-04 growing season a late start for the onset of greenness was detected at low-to-mid latitudes and it was attributed to the extreme cold weather during the early part of 2003. The length of growing season varied from east to west for the major cropping areas in the Indo-Gangetic plain, for both the first and second crops. For the first time, this study attempted to establish a broad regional phenological pattern for India using remotely sensed estimation of canopy chlorophyll content using five years of data. The overall patterns of phenological variables detected from this study broadly coincide with the pattern of natural vegetation phenology revealed in earlier community level studies. The results of this study suggest the need for an organised network combining ground and space observation which is at presently missing in India. (C) 2010 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.