Environmental drivers of NDVI-based vegetation phenology in Central Asia

Jahan Kariyeva, Willem J.D. van Leeuwen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

77 Scopus citations


Through the application and use of geospatial data, this study aimed to detect and characterize some of the key environmental drivers contributing to landscape-scale vegetation response patterns in Central Asia. The objectives of the study were to identify the variables driving the year-to-year vegetation dynamics in three regional landscapes (desert, steppe, and mountainous); and to determine if the identified environmental drivers can be used to explain the spatial-temporal variability of these spatio-temporal dynamics over time. It was posed that patterns of change in terrestrial phenology, derived from the 8 km bi-weekly time series of Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI) data acquired by the Advanced Very High Resolution Radiometer (AVHRR) satellites (1981-2008), can be explained through a multi-scale analysis of a suite of environmental drivers. Multiple linear stepwise regression analyses were used to test the hypotheses and address the objectives of the study. The annually computed phenological response variables or pheno-metricstime (season start, season length, and an NDVI-based productivity metric) were modeled as a function of ten environmental factors relating to soil, topography, and climate. Each of the three studied regional landscapes was shown to be governed by a distinctive suite of environmental drivers. The phenological responses of the steppe landscapes were affected by the year-to-year variation in temperature regimes. The phenology of the mountainous landscapes was influenced primarily by the elevation gradient. The phenological responses of desert landscapes were demonstrated to have the greatest variability over time and seemed to be affected by soil carbon content and year-to-year variation of both temperature regimes and winter precipitation patterns. Amounts and scales of observed phenological variability over time (measured through coefficient of variation for each pheno-metrictime) in each of the regional landscapes were interpreted in terms of their resistance and resilience capacities under existing and projected environmental settings.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)203-246
Number of pages44
JournalRemote Sensing
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2011


  • Central asia
  • Climate
  • Modeling
  • Phenology
  • Remote sensing

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Earth and Planetary Sciences(all)


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