Studer, S, Stockli, R, Appenzeller, C, Vidale, PL (2007). A comparative study of satellite and ground-based phenology. INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF BIOMETEOROLOGY, 51(5), 405-414.
Long time series of ground-based plant phenology, as well as more than two decades of satellite-derived phenological metrics, are currently available to assess the impacts of climate variability and trends on terrestrial vegetation. Traditional plant phenology provides very accurate information on individual plant species, but with limited spatial coverage. Satellite phenology allows monitoring of terrestrial vegetation on a global scale and provides an integrative view at the landscape level. Linking the strengths of both methodologies has high potential value for climate impact studies. We compared a multispecies index from ground-observed spring phases with two types (maximum slope and threshold approach) of satellite-derived start-of-season (SOS) metrics. We focus on Switzerland from 1982 to 2001 and show that temporal and spatial variability of the multispecies index correspond well with the satellite-derived metrics. All phenological metrics correlate with temperature anomalies as expected. The slope approach proved to deviate strongly from the temporal development of the ground observations as well as from the threshold-defined SOS satellite measure. The slope spring indicator is considered to indicate a different stage in vegetation development and is therefore less suited as a SOS parameter for comparative studies in relation to ground-observed phenology. Satellite-derived metrics are, however, very susceptible to snow cover, and it is suggested that this snow cover should be better accounted for by the use of newer satellite sensors.