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Lars Eklundh


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Remotely sensed soil moisture to estimate savannah NDVI


  • Niklas Boke-Olén
  • Jonas Ardö
  • Lars Eklundh
  • Thomas Holst
  • Veiko Lehsten

Summary, in English

Satellite derived normalized difference vegetation index (NDVI) is a common data source for monitoring regional and global ecosystem properties. In dry lands it has contributed to estimation of inter-annual and seasonal vegetation dynamics and phenology. However, due to the spectral properties of NDVI it can be affected by clouds which can introduce missing data in the time series. Remotely sensed soil moisture has in contrast to NDVI the benefit of being unaffected by clouds due to the measurements being made in the microwave domain. There is therefore a potential in combining the remotely sensed NDVI with remotely sensed soil moisture to enhance the quality and estimate the missing data. We present a step towards the usage of remotely sensed soil moisture for estimation of savannah NDVI. This was done by evaluating the European Space Agency (ESA) Climate Change Initiative (CCI) soil moisture and three of its individual products with respect to their relative performance. The individual products are from the advance scatterometer (ASCAT), Soil Moisture and Ocean Salinity (SMOS), and the Land Parameter Retrieval Model-Advanced Microwave Scanning Radiometer-Earth Observing System (LPRM-AMSR-E). Each dataset was used to simulate NDVI, which was subsequently compared to remotely sensed NDVI from MODIS. Differences in their ability to estimate NDVI indicated that, on average, CCI soil moisture differs from its individual products by showing a higher average correlation with measured NDVI. Overall NDVI modelled from CCI soil moisture gave an average correlation of 0.81 to remotely sensed NDVI which indicates its potential to be used to estimate seasonal variations in savannah NDVI. Our result shows promise for further development in using CCI soil moisture to estimate NDVI. The modelled NDVI can potentially be used together with other remotely sensed vegetation datasets to enhance the phenological information that can be acquired, thereby, improving the estimates of savannah vegetation phenology.


  • BECC: Biodiversity and Ecosystem services in a Changing Climate
  • Dept of Physical Geography and Ecosystem Science
  • MERGE: ModElling the Regional and Global Earth System

Publishing year










Document type

Journal article


Public Library of Science (PLoS)


  • Earth and Related Environmental Sciences




  • Global Savannah Phenology: Integrating Earth Observation, Ecosystem Modeling, and PhenoCams


  • ISSN: 1932-6203