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1 May 2013 Patterns of Change within a Tundra Landscape: 22-year Landsat NDVI Trends in an Area of the Northern Foothills of the Brooks Range, Alaska
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Abstract

NDVI (Normalized Difference Vegetation Index) calculated from coarse-resolution sensors has shown strong increases since the 1980s on Alaska's North Slope. Finer-resolution satellite data and ground studies are needed to understand the changes in the vegetation that are causing these increases. Analysis of an 823 km2 area using a Landsat NDVI time series showed that the homogeneous greening at coarser scales was very heterogeneous at 30-m pixel resolution, with a strong influence due to glacial history. Small scattered patches of pixels with significant increases in NDVI occurred throughout the younger, late Pleistocene glacial deposits. On older, mid-Pleistocene deposits, increases occurred in few, larger patches of mostly tussock-sedge, dwarf-shrub, moss tundra, possibly a result of release of nutrients from thawing of ice-rich permafrost. Five percent of pixels had significant linear increases in NDVI from 1985 to 2007 (n = 6, p < 0.05), while 0.4% showed significant decreases, in small patches whose causes were evident when sampled on the ground. Trends in NDVI varied by glacial history, elevation, slope, and the resulting vegetation conditions. This heterogeneity in response to climate change can be expected throughout much of the Arctic, where complex glacial histories determine existing soil and vegetation characteristics.

© 2013 Regents of the University of Colorado
Martha K. Raynolds, Donald A. Walker, David Verbyla, and Corinne A. Munger "Patterns of Change within a Tundra Landscape: 22-year Landsat NDVI Trends in an Area of the Northern Foothills of the Brooks Range, Alaska," Arctic, Antarctic, and Alpine Research 45(2), (1 May 2013). https://doi.org/10.1657/1938-4246-45.2.249
Accepted: 1 January 2013; Published: 1 May 2013
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