PHENOLOGY ANALYSIS OF FOREST VEGETATION TO ENVIRONMENTAL VARIABLES DURING PRE- AND POST-MONSOON SEASONS IN WESTERN HIMALAYAN REGION OF INDIA
Keywords: NDVI time series, NDVIchange, Landsat, Phenology, MDF, Western Himalaya
Abstract. To assess the phenological changes in Moist Deciduous Forest (MDF) of western Himalayan region of India, we carried out NDVI time series analysis from 2013 to 2015 using Landsat 8 OLI data. We used the vegetation index differencing method to calculate the change in NDVI (NDVIchange) during pre and post monsoon seasons and these changes were used to assess the phenological behaviour of MDF by taking the effect of a set of environmental variables into account. To understand the effect of environmental variables on change in phenology, we designed a linear regression analysis with sample-based NDVIchange values as the response variable and elevation aspect, and Land Surface Temperature (LST) as explanatory variables. The Landsat-8 derived phenology transition stages were validated by calculating the phenology variation from Nov 2008 to April 2009 using Landsat-7 which has the same spatial resolution as Landsat-8. The Landsat-7 derived NDVI trajectories were plotted in accordance with MODIS derived phenology stages (from Nov 2008 to April 2009) of MDF. Results indicate that the Landsat -8 derived NDVI trajectories describing the phenology variation of MDF during spring, monsoon autumn and winter seasons agreed closely with Landsat-7 and MODIS derived phenology transition from Nov 2008 to April 2009. Furthermore, statistical analysis showed statistically significant correlations (p < 0.05) amongst the environmental variables and the NDVIchange between full greenness and maximum frequency stage of Onset of Greenness (OG) activity.. The major change in NDVI was observed in medium (600 to 650 m) and maximum (650 to 750 m) elevation areas. The change in LST showed also to be highly influential. The results of this study can be used for large scale monitoring of difficult-to-reach mountainous forests, with additional implications in biodiversity assessment. By means of a sufficient amount of available cloud-free imagery, detailed phenological trends across mountainous forests could be explained.