Terrestrial vegetation dynamics and global climate controls

Christopher Potter, Shyam Boriah, Michael Steinbach, Vipin Kumar, Steven Klooster

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

36 Scopus citations


Monthly data from the moderate resolution imaging spectroradiometer (MODIS) and its predecessor satellite sensors was used to reconstruct vegetation dynamics in response to climate patterns over the period 1983-2005. Results suggest that plant growth over extensive land areas of southern Africa and Central Asia were the most closely coupled of any major land area to El Nĩo-southern oscillation (ENSO) effects on regional climate. Others land areas strongly tied to recent ENSO climate effects were in northern Canada, Alaska, western US, northern Mexico, northern Argentina, and Australia. Localized variations in precipitation were the most common controllers of monthly values for the fraction absorbed of photosynthetically active radiation (FPAR) over these regions. In addition to the areas cited above, seasonal FPAR values from MODIS were closely coupled to rainfall patterns in grassland and cropland areas of the northern and central US. Historical associations between global vegetation FPAR and atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) anomalies suggest that the terrestrial biosphere can contribute major fluxes of CO2 during major drought events, such as those triggered by 1997-1998 El Niño event.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)67-78
Number of pages12
JournalClimate Dynamics
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jun 2008

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported by grants from NASA programs in Intelligent Systems and Intelligent Data Understanding, and the NASA Earth Observing System (EOS) Interdisciplinary Science Program. Data sets used in this report are available online at http://geo.arc.nasa.gov/sge/casa/ .


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