Raynolds, MK; Walker, DA; Epstein, HE; Pinzon, JE; Tucker, CJ (2012). A new estimate of tundra-biome phytomass from trans-Arctic field data and AVHRR NDVI. REMOTE SENSING LETTERS, 3(5), 403-411.
It is often assumed that the Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI) can be equated to aboveground plant biomass, but such a relationship has never been quantified at a global biome scale. We sampled aboveground plant biomass (phytomass) at representative zonal sites along two trans-Arctic transects, one in North America and one in Eurasia, and compared these data to satellite-derived NDVI. The results showed a remarkably strong correlation between total aboveground phytomass sampled at the peak of summer and the maximum annual NDVI (R-2 = 0.94, p < 0.001). The relationship was almost identical for the North America and Eurasia transects. The NDVI-phytomass relationship was used to make an aboveground phytomass map of the tundra biome. The approach uses a new and more accurate NDVI data set for the Arctic (GIMMS3g) and a sampling protocol that employs consistent methods for site selection, clip harvest and sorting and weighing of plant material. Extrapolation of the results to zonal landscape-level phytomass estimates provides valuable data for monitoring and modelling tundra vegetation.