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Deriving phenological metrics from NDVI through an open source tool developed in QGIS
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Paper Abstract

Vegetation indices have been commonly used over the past 30 years for studying vegetation characteristics using images collected by remote sensing satellites. One of the most commonly used is the Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI). The various stages that green vegetation undergoes during a complete growing season can be summarized through time-series analysis of NDVI data. The analysis of such time-series allow for extracting key phenological variables or metrics of a particular season. These characteristics may not necessarily correspond directly to conventional, ground-based phenological events, but do provide indications of ecosystem dynamics. A complete list of the phenological metrics that can be extracted from smoothed, time-series NDVI data is available in the USGS online resources ( work aims to develop an open source application to automatically extract these phenological metrics from a set of satellite input data. The main advantage of QGIS for this specific application relies on the easiness and quickness in developing new plug-ins, using Python language, based on the experience of the research group in other related works. QGIS has its own application programming interface (API) with functionalities and programs to develop new features. The toolbar developed for this application was implemented using the plug-in The user introduces the raster files as input and obtains a plot and a report with the metrics. The report includes the following eight metrics: SOST (Start Of Season – Time) corresponding to the day of the year identified as having a consistent upward trend in the NDVI time series; SOSN (Start Of Season – NDVI) corresponding to the NDVI value associated with SOST; EOST (End of Season – Time) which corresponds to the day of year identified at the end of a consistent downward trend in the NDVI time series; EOSN (End of Season – NDVI) corresponding to the NDVI value associated with EOST; MAXN (Maximum NDVI) which corresponds to the maximum NDVI value; MAXT (Time of Maximum) which is the day associated with MAXN; DUR (Duration) defined as the number of days between SOST and EOST; and AMP (Amplitude) which is the difference between MAXN and SOSN. This application provides all these metrics in a single step. Initially, the data points are interpolated using a moving average graphic with five and three points. The eight metrics previously described are then obtained from the spline using numpy functions. In the present work, the developed toolbar was applied to MODerate resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) data covering a particular region of Portugal, which can be generally applied to other satellite data and study area. The code is open and can be modified according to the user requirements. Other advantage in publishing the plug-ins and the application code is the possibility of other users to improve this application.

Paper Details

Date Published: 23 October 2014
PDF: 9 pages
Proc. SPIE 9245, Earth Resources and Environmental Remote Sensing/GIS Applications V, 924511 (23 October 2014); doi: 10.1117/12.2066136
Show Author Affiliations
Lia Duarte, Ctr. de Investigação em Ciências Geo-Espaciais (Portugal)
A. C. Teodoro, Univ. of Porto (Portugal)
Hernãni Gonçalves, Ctr. de Investigação em Ciências Geo-Espaciais (Portugal)

Published in SPIE Proceedings Vol. 9245:
Earth Resources and Environmental Remote Sensing/GIS Applications V
Ulrich Michel; Karsten Schulz, Editor(s)

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