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Assaf Anyamba, Compton J. Tucker, and Robert Mahoney

Abstract

During the period 1997–2000, the global climate system experienced a transition from the strongest ENSO warm event this century in 1997/98 to a strong cold event in 1999/2000. Normalized difference vegetation index (NDVI) time series data derived from the Advanced Very High Resolution Radiometer (AVHRR) instrument aboard the NOAA polar-orbiting satellite series were analyzed to resolve the land surface response patterns over Africa during this period. The rearrangement of precipitation patterns induced by the change from El Niño to La Niña conditions had significant effects on biomass production in arid and semiarid lands of Africa as revealed by NDVI anomaly patterns, particularly in equatorial East Africa and southern Africa where the ENSO–precipitation linkage is most pronounced. In general, there was a reversal in NDVI response patterns in East (southern) Africa from positive (negative) during the El Niño in 1997/98 to negative (positive) during the La Niña event in 1999/2000. These changes can partially be attributed to east–west reversal in SST gradients in the Pacific Ocean basin but more significantly to the changes in the SST anomaly patterns in the equatorial western Indian Ocean (WIO) off the East African coast and the southern Indian Ocean off the southern African coast.

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Sietse O. Los, G. James Collatz, Lahouari Bounoua, Piers J. Sellers, and Compton J. Tucker

Abstract

Anomalies in global vegetation greenness, SST, land surface air temperature, and precipitation exhibit linked, low-frequency interannual variations. These interannual variations were detected and analyzed for 1982–90 with a multivariate spectral method. The two most dominant signals for 1982–90 had periods of about 2.6 and 3.4 yr. Signals centered at 2.6 years per cycle corresponded to variations in the El Niño–Southern Oscillation index and explained about 28% of the variance in anomalies of SST, land surface air temperature, precipitation, and vegetation; these signals were most pronounced in 1) SST anomalies in the eastern equatorial Pacific Ocean, 2) land surface vegetation and precipitation anomalies in tropical and subtropical regions, and 3) land surface vegetation, precipitation, and temperature anomalies in North America. Signals at 3.4 years per cycle corresponded to variations in the North Atlantic oscillation index and explained 8.6% of the variance in the combined datasets; their occurrence was most pronounced in 1) Atlantic SST anomalies, 2) in land surface temperature and vegetation anomalies in Europe and eastern Asia, and 3) in precipitation and vegetation anomalies in sub-Saharan Africa, southern Africa, and eastern North America. Anomalies in vegetation were positively related to anomalies in precipitation throughout the Tropics and subtropics and in midlatitudes in the central parts of continents. Anomalies in vegetation and temperature were positively linked in coastal temperate climates such as in Europe and eastern Asia. These associations between temperature and vegetation may be explained by the sensitivity of the length of growing season to variations in temperature.

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Piers J. Sellers, Compton J. Tucker, G. James Collatz, Sietse O. Los, Christopher O. Justice, Donald A. Dazlich, and David A. Randall

Abstract

The global parameter fields used in the revised Simple Biosphere Model (SiB2) of Sellers et al. are reviewed. The most important innovation over the earlier SiB1 parameter set of Dorman and Sellers is the use of satellite data to specify the time-varying phonological properties of FPAR, leaf area index. and canopy greenness fraction. This was done by processing a monthly 1° by 1° normalized difference vegetation index (NDVI) dataset obtained farm Advanced Very High Resolution Radiometer red and near-infrared data. Corrections were applied to the source NDVI dataset to account for (i) obvious anomalies in the data time series, (ii) the effect of variations in solar zenith angle, (iii) data dropouts in cold regions where a temperature threshold procedure designed to screen for clouds also eliminated cold land surface points, and (iv) persistent cloud cover in the Tropics. An outline of the procedures for calculating the land surface parameters from the corrected NDVI dataset is given, and a brief description is provided of source material, mainly derived from in situ observations, that was used in addition to the NDVI data. The datasets summarized in this paper should he superior to prescriptions currently used in most land surface parameterizations in that the spatial and temporal dynamics of key land surface parameters, in particular those related to vegetation, are obtained directly from a consistent set of global-scale observations instead of being inferred from a variety of survey-based land-cover classifications.

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Uma S. Bhatt, Donald A. Walker, Martha K. Raynolds, Josefino C. Comiso, Howard E. Epstein, Gensuo Jia, Rudiger Gens, Jorge E. Pinzon, Compton J. Tucker, Craig E. Tweedie, and Patrick J. Webber

Abstract

Linkages between diminishing Arctic sea ice and changes in Arctic terrestrial ecosystems have not been previously demonstrated. Here, the authors use a newly available Arctic Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI) dataset (a measure of vegetation photosynthetic capacity) to document coherent temporal relationships between near-coastal sea ice, summer tundra land surface temperatures, and vegetation productivity. The authors find that, during the period of satellite observations (1982–2008), sea ice within 50 km of the coast during the period of early summer ice breakup declined an average of 25% for the Arctic as a whole, with much larger changes in the East Siberian Sea to Chukchi Sea sectors (>44% decline). The changes in sea ice conditions are most directly relevant and have the strongest effect on the villages and ecosystems immediately adjacent to the coast, but the terrestrial effects of sea ice changes also extend far inland. Low-elevation (<300 m) tundra summer land temperatures, as indicated by the summer warmth index (SWI; sum of the monthly-mean temperatures above freezing, expressed as °C month−1), have increased an average of 5°C month−1 (24% increase) for the Arctic as a whole; the largest changes (+10° to 12°C month−1) have been over land along the Chukchi and Bering Seas. The land warming has been more pronounced in North America (+30%) than in Eurasia (16%). When expressed as percentage change, land areas in the High Arctic in the vicinity of the Greenland Sea, Baffin Bay, and Davis Strait have experienced the largest changes (>70%). The NDVI has increased across most of the Arctic, with some exceptions over land regions along the Bering and west Chukchi Seas. The greatest change in absolute maximum NDVI occurred over tundra in northern Alaska on the Beaufort Sea coast [+0.08 Advanced Very High Resolution Radiometer (AVHRR) NDVI units]. When expressed as percentage change, large NDVI changes (10%–15%) occurred over land in the North America High Arctic and along the Beaufort Sea. Ground observations along an 1800-km climate transect in North America support the strong correlations between satellite NDVI observations and summer land temperatures. Other new observations from near the Lewis Glacier, Baffin Island, Canada, document rapid vegetation changes along the margins of large retreating glaciers and may be partly responsible for the large NDVI changes observed in northern Canada and Greenland. The ongoing changes to plant productivity will affect many aspects of Arctic systems, including changes to active-layer depths, permafrost, biodiversity, wildlife, and human use of these regions. Ecosystems that are presently adjacent to year-round (perennial) sea ice are likely to experience the greatest changes.

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Peter A. Bieniek, Uma S. Bhatt, Donald A. Walker, Martha K. Raynolds, Josefino C. Comiso, Howard E. Epstein, Jorge E. Pinzon, Compton J. Tucker, Richard L. Thoman, Huy Tran, Nicole Mölders, Michael Steele, Jinlun Zhang, and Wendy Ermold

Abstract

The mechanisms driving trends and variability of the normalized difference vegetation index (NDVI) for tundra in Alaska along the Beaufort, east Chukchi, and east Bering Seas for 1982–2013 are evaluated in the context of remote sensing, reanalysis, and meteorological station data as well as regional modeling. Over the entire season the tundra vegetation continues to green; however, biweekly NDVI has declined during the early part of the growing season in all of the Alaskan tundra domains. These springtime declines coincide with increased snow depth in spring documented in northern Alaska. The tundra region generally has warmed over the summer but intraseasonal analysis shows a decline in midsummer land surface temperatures. The midsummer cooling is consistent with recent large-scale circulation changes characterized by lower sea level pressures, which favor increased cloud cover. In northern Alaska, the sea-breeze circulation is strengthened with an increase in atmospheric moisture/cloudiness inland when the land surface is warmed in a regional model, suggesting the potential for increased vegetation to feedback onto the atmospheric circulation that could reduce midsummer temperatures. This study shows that both large- and local-scale climate drivers likely play a role in the observed seasonality of NDVI trends.

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