Coops, NC; Hilker, T; Bater, CW; Wulder, MA; Nielsen, SE; McDermid, G; Stenhouse, G (2012). Linking ground-based to satellite-derived phenological metrics in support of habitat assessment. REMOTE SENSING LETTERS, 3(3), 191-200.
Changes in the timing of plant phenology are important indicators of inter-annual climatic variations and are a critical driver of food availability and habitat use for a range of species. A number of remote sensing techniques have recently been developed to observe vegetation cycles throughout the year, including the use of inexpensive visible spectrum digital cameras at the stand level and the use of high temporal frequency Advanced Very High Resolution Radiometer National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (AVHRR NOAA) and MODerate resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) imagery at a satellite scale. A fundamental challenge with using satellite data to track plant phenology, however, is the trade-off between the level of spatial detail and the revisit time provided by the sensor, and the ability to verify the interpretation of phenological activity. One way to address this challenge is to integrate remotely sensed observations obtained at different spatial and temporal scales to provide information that contains both high temporal density and fine spatial resolution observations. In this article, we compare measures of vegetation phenology observed from a network of ground-based cameras with satellite-derived measures of greenness derived from a fused broad (MODIS) and fine spatial (Landsat) scale satellite data set. We derive and compare three key indicators of phenological activity including the start date of green-up, start date of senescence and length of growing season from both a ground-based camera network and 30 m spatial resolution synthetic Landsat scenes. Results indicate that although field-based estimates, generally, predicted an earlier start and end of the vegetation season than the fused satellite observations, highly significant relationships were found for the prediction of the start (R-2 = 0.65), end (R-2 = 0.72) and length (R-2 = 0.70) of the growing season across all sites. We conclude that some predictable bias exists however unlike visual field measures of the collected data represent both a spectral and a visual archive for later use.