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MODIS-based vegetation index has sufficient sensitivity to indicate stand-level intra-seasonal climatic stress in oak and beech forests

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Abstract

Context

Variation in photosynthetic activity of trees induced by climatic stress can be effectively evaluated using remote sensing data. Although adverse effects of climate on temperate forests have been subjected to increased scrutiny, the suitability of remote sensing imagery for identification of drought stress in such forests has not been explored fully.

Aim

The study seeks to evaluate the sensitivity of MODIS-based vegetation index to heat and drought stress in temperate forests, and to explore the differences in stress response of oaks and beech.

Methods

We identified 8 oak and 13 beech pure and mature stands, each covering between 4 and 13 MODIS pixels. For each pixel, we extracted a time series of MODIS NDVI from 2000 to 2010. We identified all sequences of continuous unseasonal NDVI decline to be used as the response variable indicative of environmental stress. Neural network-based regression modelling was then applied to identify the climatic variables that best explain observed NDVI declines.

Results

Tested variables explained 84–97 % of the variation in NDVI, whilst air temperature-related climate extremes were found to be the most influential. Beech showed a linear response to the most influential climatic predictors, while oak responded in a unimodal pattern suggesting a better coping mechanism.

Conclusions

MODIS NDVI has proved sufficiently sensitive as a stand-level indicator of climatic stress acting upon temperate broadleaf forests, leading to its potential use in predicting drought stress from meteorological observations and improving parameterisation of forest stress indices.

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Funding

This research is a result of the following projects: Project no. ITMS 26220120069 supported by the Operational Programme Research and Development funded by the European Regional Development Fund; Projects of the Slovak Research and Development Agency under contracts APVV-0111-10 and APVV-0022-07; and Project of the National Agency for Agriculture Research of the Czech Republic QJ1220317.

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Authors and Affiliations

Authors

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Tomáš Hlásny.

Additional information

Handling Editor: Erwin Dreyer

Contribution of the co-authors

Tomáš Hlásny: writing the paper, interpreting results, coordinating the research project

Ivan Barka: processing the remote sensing data, managing project database

Zuzana Sitková: identifying experimental plots, analysing meteorological data

Tomáš Bucha: processing the remote sensing data, operating laboratory spectroradiometer

Milan Konôpka: processing the remote sensing data, identification of stress episodes

Martin Lukáč: co-writing the paper, interpreting results, proofreading

Executive summary

This study explores the suitability of MODIS satellite imagery for the detection of intra-seasonal heat and drought stress in temperate forests. It is clear that this data can provide valuable information complementary to forest stand-based ecophysiological research and allows for the quantification of inter-specific differences in stress response.

Appendix

Appendix

Fig. 6
figure 6

Example of experimental plots used for the investigation of MODIS-NDVI responses to climatic stress. Each experimental plot in our experimental design consists of 4–10 MODIS pixels (250 × 250 m)

Fig. 7
figure 7

An example of declining sequences of MODIS-NDVI identified in NDVI time series for selected beech and oak dominated MODIS pixels for the period 2000–2010. Such sequences are indicative of environmental stress affecting the physiological performance and spectral reflectance of vegetation

Fig. 8
figure 8

Reflectance of mature homogenous stands within two MODIS pixels with spatial resolution 250 × 250 m in red and near infrared (VNIR) spectral bands is shown in panes a and b. Pane a represents an 80-year-old pure oak stand (176 m a.s.l.) undergoing a rainless period lasting 18 days, while pane b shows values from a pixel covering an 80-year-old pure beech stand (536 m a.s.l.) affected by a 12-day-rainless period. Panes a1 and b1 show raw reflectance values, while a2 and b2 show percentage change relative to the reflectance of unstressed vegetation before the rainless period. Spectral reflectance values in panes c were measured by the LI-1800 Portable Spectroradiometer using 1800-12 Integration Sphere (Licor Inc., USA) collecting radiation reflected from the sampled material illuminated by a glass-halogen lamp. Three fresh overlapping leaves of Quercus robur were positioned in the sphere chamber and reflectance readings were recorded for 54 h with unequal time step in the spectral range 400–1,100 nm. At the end of the observation, the leaves were dry beyond natural range found in the obvious field conditions in Central Europe. This supplementary analysis shows that spectral change in leaves with limited water availability observed by the MODIS sensor at stand scale is very consistent with changes observed in laboratory conditions at the leaf scale. The fact that the latter is free of any atmospheric interferences indicates that, despite the limited comparability of the two sets of spectral responses, daily MODIS data can provide realistic information on intra-seasonal vegetation stress dynamics

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Hlásny, T., Barka, I., Sitková, Z. et al. MODIS-based vegetation index has sufficient sensitivity to indicate stand-level intra-seasonal climatic stress in oak and beech forests. Annals of Forest Science 72, 109–125 (2015). https://doi.org/10.1007/s13595-014-0404-2

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s13595-014-0404-2

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