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Remote Sens. 2013, 5(8), 3803-3825; doi:10.3390/rs5083803

Disentangling the Relationships between Net Primary Production and Precipitation in Southern Africa Savannas Using Satellite Observations from 1982 to 2010

Department of Geography, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL 32611, USA
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Received: 18 June 2013 / Revised: 29 July 2013 / Accepted: 29 July 2013 / Published: 2 August 2013
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Monitoring Global Vegetation with AVHRR NDVI3g Data (1981-2011))
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Abstract

To obtain a better understanding of the variability in net primary production (NPP) in savannas is important for the study of the global carbon cycle and the management of this particular ecosystem. Using satellite and precipitation data sets, we investigated the variations in NPP in southern African savannas from 1982 to 2010, and disentangled the relationships between NPP and precipitation by land cover classes and mean annual precipitation (MAP) gradients. Specifically, we evaluate the utility of the third generation Global Inventory Monitoring and Modeling System (GIMMS3g) normalized difference vegetation index (NDVI) dataset, in comparison with Moderate-resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) derived NPP products, and find strong relationships between the overlapping data periods (2000–2010), such that we can apply our model to derive NPP estimates to the full 29-year NDVI time-series. Generally, the northern portion of the study area is characterized by high NPP and low variability, whereas the southern portion is characteristic of low NPP and high variability. During the period 1982 through 2010, NPP has reduced at a rate of −2.13 g∙C∙m−2∙yr−1 (p < 0.1), corresponding to a decrease of 6.7% over 29 years, and about half of bush and grassland savanna has experienced a decrease in NPP. There is a significant positive relationship between mean annual NPP and MAP in bush and grassland savannas, but no significant relationship is observed in tree savannas. The relationship between mean annual NPP and MAP varies with increases in MAP, characterized as a linear relationship that breaks down when MAP exceeding around 850–900 mm. View Full-Text
Keywords: NPP; precipitation; savanna; NDVI; Southern Africa; AVHRR; MODIS NPP; precipitation; savanna; NDVI; Southern Africa; AVHRR; MODIS
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY 3.0).

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Zhu, L.; Southworth, J. Disentangling the Relationships between Net Primary Production and Precipitation in Southern Africa Savannas Using Satellite Observations from 1982 to 2010. Remote Sens. 2013, 5, 3803-3825.

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