Remote Sensing-Based Determination of Conifer Needle Flushing Phenology over Boreal-Dominant Regions

  • Navdeep S. Sekhon
  • Quazi K. HassanEmail author
  • Mohammad  M. Kamal
Part of the Society of Earth Scientists Series book series (SESS)


Coniferous needle flushing [CNF: defined as the date when the tips of at least 75 % fresh buds of white spruce (Picea glauca) and/or black spruce (Picea mariana) in the surrounding area have reached to a minimum of 2 cm new growth since the start of the growing season] is one of the critical phenological stage in particular to boreal forest. Here, our objective was to evaluate the performance of remotely sensed MODIS-data in determining CNF stage in the Canadian province of Alberta. We employed two predictors primarily using Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) data, i.e. (1) accumulated growing degree days (AGDD) and (2) normalized difference water index (NDWI). For determining the thresholds for both of the predictors, we extracted temporal trends AGDD and NDWI during the period of ground-based CNF observations at the lookout tower sites. We found that individual thresholds of AGDD (i.e., 200 degree days) and NDWI (i.e., 0.525) were in better agreements (i.e., ~85 and ~72 % of the times for AGDD and NDWI respectively for ±2 periods of deviation) with the ground-based CNF observation periods. The combination of the two predictors revealed that their logical ‘OR’ combination produced the overall best agreements (i.e., on an average ~85 % of the times within ±2 periods of deviation).


Accumulated growing degree days Normalized difference water index MODIS data White spruce (Picea glaucaBlack spruce (Picea mariana



This study was partially supported by an NSERC Discovery Grant provided to Dr. Hassan. The authors would like to acknowledge: (1) NASA for providing the MODIS data; and (2) Alberta Department of Sustainable Resource Development for providing ground-based CNF observation data.


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Navdeep S. Sekhon
    • 1
  • Quazi K. Hassan
    • 1
    Email author
  • Mohammad  M. Kamal
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Geomatics Engineering, Schulich School of EngineeringUniversity of CalgaryCalgaryCanada
  2. 2.Department of Geography and PlanningUniversity of SaskatchewanSaskatoonCanada

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