Remote sensing is used for monitoring the impacts of meteorological drought on ecosystems, but few large-scale comparisons of the response timescale to drought of different vegetation remote sensing products are available. We correlated vegetation health products derived frompolar-orbiting radiometer observations with a meteorological drought indicator available at different aggregation timescales, the Standardized Precipitation Evapotranspiration Index (SPEI), to evaluate responses averaged globally and over latitude and biome.The remote sensing products are Vegetation Condition Index (VCI), which uses normalized difference vegetation index (NDVI) to identify plant stress, Temperature Condition Index (TCI), based on thermal emission as a measure of surface temperature, and Vegetation Health Index (VHI), the average of VCI and TCI. Globally, TCI correlated best with 2-month timescale SPEI, VCI correlated best with longer timescale droughts (peak mean correlation at 13 months), and VHI correlated best at an intermediate timescale of 4 months. Our results suggest that thermal emission (TCI) may better detect incipient drought than vegetation color (VCI). VHI had the highest correlations with SPEI at aggregation times greater than 3 months and hence may be the most suitable product for monitoring the effects of long droughts.
Andujar, Erika; Krakauer, Nir; Yi, Chuixiang; and Kogan, Felix, "Ecosystem Drought Response Timescales from Thermal Emission versus Shortwave Remote Sensing" (2017). CUNY Academic Works.