Karlsen, SR, Ramfjord, H, Hogda, KA, Johansen, B, Danks, FS, Brobakk, TE (2009). A satellite-based map of onset of birch (Betula) flowering in Norway. AEROBIOLOGIA, 25(1), 15-25.
Birch (Betula pubescens L.) is by far the most common deciduous tree in Norway and birch forests define the forest line both northwards and upwards. Because of its mountainous topography, long fjords, and long length from north to south, Norway is climatically and ecologically very diverse. Therefore, developing pollen forecasts in Norway is a challenging task. In this study we use MODIS-NDVI (normalized difference vegetation index) satellite data with 250 m spatial resolution and 16-days time resolution for the period 2000-2007, and birch pollen counts from ten Burkad traps distributed throughout Norway, to characterize the onset of birch flowering in Norway. Four of the seven trap stations with long-term series show significant values at the 5% level or better between the MODIS-NDVI defined onset and the date when the annual accumulated birch pollen sum reaches 2.5% of the annual total. A map of Norway that shows the eight-year mean (2000-2007) onset of birch flowering was produced. It reveals large differences in the timing of the onset of birch flowering along the north-south and altitude gradients. The map provides useful general information that can be utilized by the Norwegian pollen forecast service. This study shows that remote sensing is a useful tool for not only characterizing the onset of the birch pollen season but also revealing regional differences not easily detected by pollen stations alone.