monitoring and natural resources management applications
, Alfredo Huete
, Matt Paget
, Xuanlong Ma
, Mirela Tulbure
Natalia Restrepo Coupe
, Bradley Evans
, Jason Beringer
, Rakhesh Devadas
, Alex Held
School of Biological, Earth and Environmental Sciences, University of New South Wales, Sydney, NSW 2052, Australia
AusCover TERN Sydney Node, Plant Functional Biology and Climate Change Cluster, University of Technology, Sydney, NSW 2007, Australia
AusCover TERN, CSIRO Marine and Atmospheric Research, Pye Laboratory, ACT 2600, Australia
Department of Biological Sciences, Macquarie University, NSW 2109, Australia
School of Earth and Environment, University of Western Australia, WA 6009, Australia
Received 25 August 2014
Received in revised form
14 November 2014
Accepted 16 November 2014
Land surface phenology (LSP) characterizes episodes of greening and browning of the vegetated land
surface from remote sensing imagery. LSP is of interest for quantiﬁcation and monitoring of crop yield,
wildﬁre fuel accumulation, vegetation condition, ecosystem response and resilience to climate variability
and change. Deriving LSP represents an effort for end users and existing global products may not
accommodate conditions in Australia, a country with a dry climate and high rainfall variability. To ﬁll this
information gap we developed the Australian LSP Product in contribution to AusCover/Terrestrial
Ecosystem Research Network (TERN).
We describe the product's algorithm and information content consisting of metrics that characterize
LSP greening and browning episodes of the vegetated land surface. Our product allows tracking LSP
metrics over time and thereby quantifying inter- and intraannual variability across Australia. We
demonstrate the metrics' response to ENSO-driven climate variability. Lastly, we discuss known limi-
tations of the current product and future development plans.
©2014 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
With the launch of the ﬁrst MODerate-resolution Imaging
Spectroradiometer (MODIS) instrument in late 1999, a new set of
data products for continuous land surface monitoring at global to
regional scale became available to the user community (Justice
et al., 2002). Pre-processed data products are distributed to the
user community free of charge via the internet (https://lpdaac.usgs.
gov/). One of these products, the vegetation index product
(MOD13) was designed to monitor vegetation greenness across
large areas (Huete et al., 2002; Solano et al., 2012). Despite its
valuable information content, users and practitioners from outside
of the remote sensing community often ﬁnd it time consuming to
derive information for their speciﬁc applications.
This work extracts value added information for a range of users
by characterizing land surface phenological episodes of greening
and browning from time series of MOD13 for Australia in the form
of LSP metrics. Land surface phenology (LSP) is deﬁned as “the
seasonal pattern of variation in vegetated land surfaces observed
from remote sensing”(Friedl et al., 2006) as opposed to vegetation
phenology, which describes in-situ observations of life cycle events
of individual plants or species such as bud break, ﬂowering, or leaf
senescence (Henebry and de Beurs, 2013). LSP depicts spatio-
temporal patterns of, for example, the timing of vegetation
growth, senescence, and dormancy at seasonal and interannual
time scales in a spatially aggregated form (e.g. pixel size of metres
to km depending on the input data source) (Friedl et al., 2006).
LSP is a function of short and long term changes in climate and
other factors such as reoccurring ﬁres, anthropogenic management
(e.g. agriculture), land and soil degradation, biodiversity loss, plant
pests and diseases and invariant factors such as topography and
soils (Bajocco et al., 2010; Bisigato et al., 2013; IPCC, 2007; Mackey
*Corresponding author. School of Biological, Earth and Environmental Sciences,
University of New South Wales, Sydney, NSW 2052, Australia.
E-mail address: email@example.com (M. Broich).
Contents lists available at ScienceDirect
Environmental Modelling & Software
journal homepage: www.elsevier.com/locate/envsoft
1364-8152/©2014 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
Environmental Modelling & Software 64 (2015) 191e204
et al., 2012; Myneni et al., 1997; Schwartz and Hanes, 2010; White
et al., 1996, 1997; Zhang et al., 2003; Zhang et al., 2012). As such, LSP
provides valuable information to scientists and practitioners
interested in vegetation and ecosystem response to climate vari-
ability such as drought and land use change. Speciﬁc applications of
LSP information include for example the quantiﬁcation of crop
yields, wildﬁre fuel accumulation, ecosystem resilience and health
and land surface modelling (Eklundh and J€
onsson, 2010; Friedl
et al., 2006; Liang and Schwartz, 2009; Pe~
nuelas et al., 2009;
The global MODIS Land Cover Dynamics Product (MCD12Q2
unofﬁcially known as the global phenology product) (Gray, 2012;
Ganguly et al., 2010) was developed to characterize the LSP of
global ecosystems, such as the timing of peak greenness and the
length of the growing season. LSP information retrieval works best
for regions with well-deﬁned growing seasons, such as the mid and
high latitudes of the Northern Hemisphere where LSP cycles
reoccur annually. The algorithm producing the MOD12Q2 Product
has been purposely designed to be conservative and not produce
results if data are missing during transition periods or when the
Enhanced Vegetation Index (EVI) amplitude is very low. Therefore,
retrieving LSP in arid, evergreen or cloudy environments represents
an ongoing challenge (Ganguly et al., 2010). Studies focussing on
water-limited environments have been based on algorithms
developed speciﬁcally for continental (Broich et al., 2014) to
regional study areas (Brown and de Beurs, 2008; Walker et al.,
For Australia, Zhang et al. (2006) found no well-deﬁned spatial
pattern of LSP for arid and semi-arid areas, using the MOD12Q2
global LSP product. The absence of clear patterns may be related to
climatic variability causing high LSP variability or indicate that a
product speciﬁcally designed for Australia's conditions is required.
In this work we therefore develop a product to characterize LSP
greening and browning ‘episodes’speciﬁcally for Australia.
Australian ecosystems are subject to high interannual variability
in rainfall and large areas are therefore covered by grassland and
drought-adapted vegetation (Australian Bureau of Meteorology,
2014a;Khan, 2008; Nicholls, 1991; Nicholls et al., 1997). Woody
vegetation in Australia is predominantly sclerophyll evergreen
shrubs and trees that form an open or sparse canopy over a her-
baceous understory (Australian Government Department of
Sustainability Environment Water Populations and Communities,
2013; Donohue et al., 2009; Eamus et al., 2013). Less interannual
variability in LSP occurs over Australia's vast cropping areas where
LSP is primarily a function of management. The Australian land-
scapes are also subject to climatic variability induced by the El Ni ~
Southern Oscillation (ENSO), evident in the transition from the
droughts of the past decade (2001e2009) to the La Ni~
ﬂoods across large areas of Eastern Australia in 2010 (Heberger,
This extensive rainfall led to a high regional vegetation pro-
duction in 2011 that has inﬂuenced the global carbon cycle through
a large interannual variability in the global signal of CO
tration (Poulter et al., 2014). LSP products can help elucidate these
features. Other large-scale drivers of rainfall variability in Australia
include the Indian Ocean Dipole, the MaddeneJulian oscillation,
the Southern Annular Mode and the Inter-decadal Paciﬁc Oscilla-
tion (Risbey et al., 2009).
The objective of this paper is to introduce the Australian Land
Surface Phenology Product to the science, monitoring and natural
resources management user communities.
Speciﬁcally this paper aims to:
1) Quantify LSP episodes of greening and browning from MODIS
EVI time series across Australia, including the temporally vari-
able, small amplitude LSP episodes that may be expected over
such semi-arid and arid environments.
2) Describe the product's algorithm and the information content
consisting of metrics that characterize LSP episodes of greening
and browning of the vegetated land surface.
3) Demonstrate the LSP episodes metrics' response to ENSO-driven
4) Discuss known limitations of the current product and future
2.1. Charactering LSP episode patterns from remotely sensed vegetation index time
The majority of studies use time series of spectral vegetation indices derived
from optical imagery. These indices are based on the difference between the red
region of the electromagnetic spectrum where green vegetation strongly absorbs
and the near infrared region of the electromagnetic spectrum where green vege-
tation strongly reﬂects (Henebry and de Beurs, 2013). LSP studies commonly use
per-pixel index time series such as the Normalized Difference Vegetation Index
(NDVI) or the Enhanced Vegetation Index (EVI) that measure changes in vegetation
Dataset and data availability
Name of the Dataset Australian Land Surface Phenology
Product Version 1
Creator Climate Change Cluster, University of Technology
Contact Mark Broich, firstname.lastname@example.org
Type of the dataset Spatio-temporal dataset in geolocated
Input data MOD13C2 product EVI 0.05-degree 16 day input
data from 18 Feb 2000 to 22 Apr 2013.
Coverage and information content The Australian Land
Product Version 1
provides annual land
metrics for all of Australia
List of output data Metrics for each land surface phenology
episode: The ﬁrst and second minimum,
peak, start and end points, length and
amplitude as well as the episode
integrated greenness between the
episode's start and end.
Coordinate system Geographic, WGS 84 eepsg 4326. The
pixel size is 0.05-degrees. Spatial extent:
S and 112
Release year 2013
Data Access The data product is staged and can be
downloaded free of charge from the AusCover
Licenses Creative Common Attribution (CC-BY) 3.0: Users of
the Australian Land Surface Phenology Product
agree to cite this manuscript. A Digital Object
Identiﬁer (DOI) for the Australian Phenology
Product is pending.
The Australian Land Surface Phenology Product is scheduled to permanently
migrate to the Australian Research Data Storage Infrastructure (RDSI) that is funded
through the Australian Government's Super Science Initiative and sourced from the
Education Investment Fund (EIF).
M. Broich et al. / Environmental Modelling & Software 64 (2015) 191e204192
greenness as input data (de Beurs and Henebry, 2010; Eklundh and J€
Liang and Schwartz, 2009; Reed et al., 2003; Tan et al., 2011; Vrieling et al., 2011;
Zhang et al., 2003).
EVI is a red, near infrared and blue reﬂectance optimized index with additional
parameters to adjust for atmospheric contamination and soil background (Huete
et al., 2002) and has been found to correlate with sub-pixel leaf chlorophyll con-
tent and leaf area index (Huete et al., 2014). The EVI data from the MODIS in-
struments mounted on the EOS TERRA and AQUA satellite platforms (launched in
1999 and 2002, respectively) have been the primary data source for LSP character-
izations since 2000. LSP is often characterized by ﬁtting mathematical curves such as
double logistic models (Beck et al., 2006; Eklundh and J€
onsson, 2010;Zhang et al.,
2003, 2006), asymmetric Gaussian models (Beck et al., 2006; Eklundh and
onsson, 2010) or Fourier and Wavelet transformations (Moody and Johnson,
2001) to vegetation index greenness time series.
A limiting factor in the application of existing techniques on the Australian
continent is that the majority of LSP algorithms have been developed to characterize
ecosystems in the mid and high latitudes of the Northern Hemisphere where LSP
cycles reoccur annually (de Beurs and Henebry, 2010; Eklundh and J€
Crops can also be expected to have an annual LSP cycle within a speciﬁc time
window. Yet, LSP greening and browning episodes in arid or semi-arid ecosystems
may not follow a predictable annual pattern and different algorithms may be needed
to characterize vegetation dynamics for such regions (Brown and de Beurs, 2008;
Tan et al., 2011). Advances of the global MODIS Land Cover Dynamics Product use
an algorithm that accommodates unevenly distributed growing seasons as they
occur for example in the deserts of the Southwest USA (Tan et al., 2011). Besides
temporal variability, the low seasonal amplitude of remotely sensed greenness in
semi-arid and arid ecosystems further complicates the characterization of LSP epi-
sodes (Ganguly et al., 2010; Ma et al., 2013; Walker et al., 2014, 2012). Based on the
MODIS Quality Assessment tools we found that LSP was not retrieved for more than
30e50% of the semi-arid and arid areas of Australia by the MODIS Land Cover Dy-
namics Product (MCD12Q2; Land Data Operational Product Evaluation, 2012)
possibly due to the low seasonal amplitude of remotely sensed greenness (Ganguly
et al., 2010).
Here we extend the concept of LSP to constitute an indeterminate period of
greening as indicated by EVI that may be expected over semi-arid and arid envi-
ronments. We therefore did not use the classical deﬁnition of a LSP period of
greening and browning as an annual or seasonal cycle of reoccurring events that
begins and ends within a calendar year, as commonly observed in the mid and high
latitudes of the Northern Hemisphere, where low winter temperatures typically halt
vegetation growth. We instead deﬁned a LSP ‘episode’as a period of EVI-measured
greening and browning that may occur at any time of the year, extend across the end
of a year, skip a year (not occur for one or multiple years) or occur more than once a
year. Multiple LSP episodes within a year can occur in the form of double cropping in
agricultural areas or be caused by aseasonal rain events in water-limited
Based on per-pixel greenness time series measured by MODIS EVI, we modelled
LSP episode curves and their key properties in the form of LSP episode metrics
including: the ﬁrst and second minimum point, peak, start and end of episode;
length of episode, and the amplitude of the episode. We also integrated EVI under
the curve between the start and end of the episode as a proxy of net primary pro-
ductivity (Ponce Campos et al., 2013; Zhang et al., 2013; see applicability restrictions
in the discussion section). The ﬁrst and second minimum point, peak, start and end
of episode points have time and magnitude dimensions. The concept of L SP curve
metrics is shown in Fig. 1 and the metrics are listed and deﬁned in Table 1. By
tracking the derived LSP episode metrics over time, users can quantify the intra-and
interannual variability of the LSP episodes in time and space. This allows the analysis
of variability of LSP metrics that can then be related to climate variability, climate
change, and land use and management practices.
2.2. Model algorithm
To characterize LSP across Australia, we developed an internally consistent al-
gorithm, which was subsequently applied to every MODIS pixel from 2000 until
We generated the ﬁrst in a series of multi-resolution Australian Land Surface
Phenology Products, by applying the algorithm to the MODIS MOD13C2 Product
with a 0.05-degree spatial and 16-day temporal resolution (Huete et al., 1999).
LSP is also a function of spatial resolution (de Beurs et al., 20 09) and in this work
we used 0.05-degree data that attenuates noise that occurs at ﬁner resolutions
(Solano et al., 2012).
We sourced input EVI data from 18 Feb 2000 to 22 Apr 2013
from the Land Processes Distributed Active ArchiveCenter (LP DAAC: https://lpdaac.
usgs.gov/). Filtering input data via pixel-level QA has been recommended for time-
series analysis to screen out data that is unsuitable and ensures that the quality of
the utilized data remains consistent and reliable (Roy et al., 2002). Therefore the ﬁrst
step was to screen the EVI greenness data using the quality assurance ﬂags (QA ﬂags)
provided with the MOD13C2 Product. We discarded observations with VI usefulness
>‘10’(keeping the highest 2 of 11 qualitylevels), or Aerosol Quantity ‘climatology’or
‘high’, or Mixed Clouds present, or water in the Land/Water Flag.
Generally, the proportion of pixels discarded via QA ﬁltering was low, as would
be expected for a study area with limited cloud cover and snow contamination. The
median percent of gap ﬁlled observations per-pixel across Australia was 0.7%, with
10 and 90 percent quartiles of 0.45% and 9.5%, respectively.
We then gap-ﬁlled the low quality obs ervations screened in the previous step
in per-pixel 2000 to 2013 EVI time series using cub ic spline interpolation
(Dougherty et al., 1989). As a last pre-processing step, we used a SavitzkyeGolay
smoothing ﬁlter (Savitzky and Golay, 1964) with a win dow size of 15 time steps and
a second order polynomial to reduce noise in the gap ﬁlled time series. We then
determined the locat ions of LSP episodes for each pixel's time se ries. We located
the episodes' posit ions by identifying mi nimum and peak point s of the gap ﬁlled
and smoothed time seri es using a moving window of nine time steps for both the
minimum and maximum p oints. A sequence of mini mumemaximumeminimum
points with a differenc e >0.01 EVI was identiﬁed as an episode of greening and
browning based on the statistics reported by the MODIS Land Validation Team
(MODIS land team 2014) and veriﬁed by visual assessment at our 36 test sites
(described in the next sec tion).
Using the identiﬁed points for each episode, we constrained the interval for the
mathematical function ﬁt. We ﬁtted a 7-parameter double logistic curve to each
episode in the per-pixel time series.
The equation of the 7-parameter double logistic curve is:
is equal to the ﬁrst minimum point; V
is equal to the second
minimum point; V
is the peak point of the double logistic model, and S
the time scale parameters on the ascending and descending side of the curve,
respectively. The parameters T
are equal to ðV
In a preliminary investigation we found that minimum points on either side of
LSP episodes can have different magnitude across the interior of Australia. Hence, we
chose the 7-parameter double logistic model as it accommodated differences in
minimum point magnitudes.
We ﬁtted a number of curves equal to the number of identiﬁed LSP episodes for a
given per-pixel trajectory to accommodate, for example, double cropping or fallow
ﬁelds within a given year. To identify the start and end of episode points we
employed a generic uniform amplitude threshold. We deﬁned the start of the
episode as the point when the pixel's greenness reached 20% of its peak value and
the end of the episode when the greenness had decreased 80% from its peak, con-
forming with the relative threshold used in other studies (Delbart et al., 2005;
Eklundh and J€
onsson, 2010; Jones et al., 2011; Tan et al., 2011). In a ﬁnal step we
quantiﬁed the length of the episode, amplitude of the episode and episode inte-
2.3. Sample and test sites for algorithm evaluation
We evaluated the algorithm'sability to capture the spatio-temporal variabilityof
LSP episodes across the country using a set of 36 sites (single pixel time series)
Fig. 1. Conceptual illustration of the LSP curve metrics derived in this work. The
derived point metrics are: the ﬁrst and second minimum point (Min1 and Min2); the
peak point (Peak); the start and end of the episode point (Soe and Eoe) as 20% of the
difference between Peak and the respective Min point. The other metrics are the length
of the episode (Loe) as the number of days between Soe and Eoe, the amplitude of the
episode (Amp), and the episode integrated greenness (Eig) between the start and the
end of the episode points (the hatched area in the curve).
Implications of this spatial resolution are discussed in Section 4.2.
M. Broich et al. / Environmental Modelling & Software 64 (2015) 191e204 193
distributed across Australia (Fig. 2). Twenty-one of the sites are the locations of eddy
covariance ﬂux towers of the OzFlux network representing different land and
vegetation cover (http://www.ozﬂux.org.au/). We selected 15 additional test sites to
represent climatic conditions, land and vegetation cover mostly in the interior of
Australia as well as for regions that are not covered by OzFlux sites. Table 2 provides
the site names, locations, major vegetation classes according to Australia's National
Vegetation Information System (NVIS), based on a combination of vegetation
structure and ﬂoristics (Department of the Environment and Water Resources,
2007), average annual rainfall amounts and rainfall variability.
To demonstrate the algorithm and provide an insight into the variability of
Australian LSP, we illustrate the EVI time series and LSP metrics of four example
0.05-degree pixels covering four OzFlux tower sites that represent different vege-
tation cover and climatic conditions: The Alice Springs ﬂux tower represents semi-
arid mulga (Acacia) woodland of the centre of Australia. The Riggs Creek
site represents dry land agriculture (predominantly pasture) in the Southeast
of Australia. The Wallaby Creek site represents wet temperate Eucalypt forest in the
Southeast of Australia that burned in a ﬁre in 2009. The Howard Springs site rep-
resents wet tropical open woodland savanna of Northern Australia (Fig. 2).
We illustrate the steps of our algorithm using the highly variable EVI trajectory
of the Alice Springs ﬂux site in Central Australia. Fig. 3A shows the EVI trajectory
after screening low quality observations, ﬁlling of observation gaps and smoothing
of the time series, and identiﬁcation of the minimum and maximum points of the
trajectory to identify LSP episodes. Fig. 3B shows the result of a sequence of double
logistic curves ﬁtted to the ﬂagged minimum and maximum points to mathemati-
cally characterize the identiﬁed LSP episodes and the identiﬁed start and end of
episode points for each episode within the 14 year time series.
2.4. Model performance evaluation
According to the recent work by Bennett et al. (2013), the effective use of
environmental models for management and decision-making requires that conﬁ-
dence in model performance is established. To establish conﬁdence and document
limitations we characterized the performance of our LSP model using both con-
current comparison and direct value comparison methods following Bennett et al.
Our modelling aim was to derive LSP episodes and episodes' metrics from
MODIS EVI time series. To evaluate our model's performance we used a set of
evaluation metrics in concurrent comparison at the 36 sites. We evaluated our
modelled curve ﬁt against the input EVI time series after screening out low quality
observations. We also used direct value comparison of the start and end of episode
timing derived from the EVI time series and start and end of episode timing derived
from gross primary productivity (GPP) time series at the Howard Springs eddy
covariance ﬂux tower site (Beringer et al., 2014).
For concurrent comparison we calculated y-residual metrics of the LSP episodes
modelled via subsequent 7-parameter double logistic curves and the raw EVI time
series after screening out low quality observations for each of our 36 test sites across
the time series.
Speciﬁcally, we calculated the mean error (bias), mean absoluteerror (MAE), and
root mean square error (RMSE). We calculated the bias to quantify if our model ﬁt
was on average overestimatingor underestimating EVI. Positive and negative errors
may cancel each other in the bias calculation. To prevent cancellation and topresent
a set of complementary evaluation metrics we also calculated the MAE and the
RMSE, which emphasize small and large deviation events, respectively. We analysed
these metrics in the context of the LSP amplitude at each site. We approximated LSP
amplitude independent of our algorithm as the inter-quartile range (IQR), the dif-
ference between the 90% and the 10% quartile. As a last step in our concurrent
comparison, we visually evaluated residual plots for each of the 36 test sites to
detect autocorrelation patterns in the residuals.
We also conducted a direct value comparison of our EVI LSP start and end of the
episodes timing with the start and end of episodes timing derived from GPP time
series derived from the Howard Springs ﬂux site. Fluxes have been measured at the
Howard Springs site since 2001 (Beringer et al., 2014). As input we used daily GPP
modelled using the dynamic integrated gap ﬁlling and partitioning for Ozﬂux
(DINGO) system (Beringer et al., 2007). We calculated the median GPP per 16-day
interval to match the temporal resolution of the EVI data, the input to our
phenology product. We applied the same algorithm developed for the EVI and
described in Section 2.2, to the GPP time series to derive start and end of episodes
timing of GPP episodes for the Howard Springs ﬂux site.
3.1. Illustration of EVI time series and LSP metrics of selected sites
Our model shows that Australia's LSP is highly variable both for
a speciﬁc site interannually and across the continent (Figs. 3 and 4).
List of LSP curve metrics, their deﬁnition, use, and measurement units.
Name Abbreviation Deﬁnition juse Units
First minimum point Min1 The boundary between the current episode and the previous episode. j
Separation of previous and current episode
Time: Day of year in a given year Magnitude: EVI
Start of episode Soe The start of the greening phase jIdentiﬁcation of the start of greening Time: Day of year in a given year Magnitude: EVI
Peak of episode Peak The episode peak and point between the greening and the browning phase j
Identiﬁcation of the peak of greening
Time: Day of year in a given year Magnitude: EVI
End of episode Eoe The end of the browning phase jIdentiﬁcation of the end of browning Time: Day of year in a given year Magnitude: EVI
Min2 The boundary between the current and the following episode j
Separation of current and following episode
Time: Day of year in a given year Magnitude: EVI
Length of episode Loe The time between the start and end of episode points j
Measuring the length of an episode
Number of days
Amplitude of episode Amp The difference between Peak and average Start and End of episode:
Peak e((Start of episode + End of episode)/2) jMeasuring the
amplitude of greenup
Eig The integrated daily EVI under the curve between the start and
end of the episode time ja proxy of productivity
(see applicability restrictions in the discussion section)
Episode integrated EVI
Measurement units are time (day of year in a given year) and EVI (greenness). EVI (greenness) provides an approximation of sub-pixel chlorophyll content and leaf area
index (Huete et al., 2014).
Fig. 2. Locations of the 0.05-degree pixels over 21 OzFlux ﬂux tower sites (black tri-
angles) and 15 additional sites (yellow solid circles) used for algorithm evaluation. The
background map shows the average peak EVI (average EVI value at the LSP episodes'
peak). The ﬁve sites marked by large circles are analysed later in the text. Full site
names of abbreviations used here can be found in Table 2. (For interpretation of the
references to colour in this ﬁgure legend, the reader is referred to the web version of
M. Broich et al. / Environmental Modelling & Software 64 (2015) 191e204194
For example, at the Alice Springs site, the timing, length, amplitude
and magnitude of LSP episodes vary interannually and no episodes
were detected in 2008 and 2009. At Riggs Creek, a dry land agri-
culture (predominantly pasture) site, the observed episodes
showed high amplitude and interannual variability with smaller
peaks and integrals in 2002 and 2006. The evergreen wet
temperate eucalypt forest at the Wallaby Creek site had LSP epi-
sodes with high minimum and peak point magnitude and conse-
quently small amplitude. Following a ﬁre in 2009, greenness
decreased and the regeneration period can be seen with subse-
quent cycles of increasing peak and low point magnitude. While the
regeneration period was well characterized, the quantiﬁed pre-ﬁre
LSP appeared noisy, likely as a function of limited amplitude in the
EVI time series and a relatively high level of high frequency noise. In
contrast, LSP episodes at the Howard Springs wet tropical savanna
site followed a relatively regular pattern with moderately high
minimum points and amplitude of episodes that start at the end of
the year and end during the ﬁrst quarter of the following year.
While the timing and magnitude of LSP episodes and their metrics
may vary slightly, all LSP metrics occurred every year at the Howard
LSP episodes of interior Australia can be highly variable and
non-annual. Using an additional sample site in the interior of
Southeast Australia featuring sparse natural vegetation cover
(Fig. 5), we illustrate an example of LSP episodes as they occurred
during the 2000e2013 time interval in water-limited areas of
Australia. In the EVI proﬁle shown in Fig. 5, we see an episode that
started in 2001 and ended in 2002, with no new episode until 20 04.
In 2007 an episode started, peaked and ended. Also in 2007 a
second episode started, peaked in 2008 and ended in 2009. The two
episodes in 2010 had higher peaks compared to the other identiﬁed
episodes within the time series.
3.2. Model performance evaluation
The bias, MAE and RMSE values were low relative to the sites'
inter-quartile range (IQR; as a proxy of each site's LSP amplitude)
for most sites (Fig. 6;Table 3). Further, the residual plots (not
shown) did only indicate a minor level of residual autocorrelation
relative to the LSP amplitude as approximated by the IQR.
The results of our direct value comparison of our EVI LSP start
and end of LSP episode timing with the start and end of episode
Names, locations, major NVIS classes, average annual rainfall amounts and rainfall variabilities for the 36 sites shown in Fig. 2. Example sites in Figs. 2e5are underlined.
Site name Ozﬂux
as in Fig. 2
Lat Long NVIS major class (Department of the
Environment and Water Resources, 2007)
Average annual rainfall
[mm] (Australian Bureau
of Meteorology, 2014b)
Nullarbor NU &30.275 127.175 Chenopod shrublands,
samphire shrublands and forblands
Great Blight Desert GBD &29.125 133.075 Acacia open woodlands 200 4
Interior Southeast Australia IEA &29.425 144.225 Acacia shrublands 300 4
East of Shark bay ESB &24.475 116.325 Acacia shrublands 300 5
Alice Springs x AS &22.275 133.225 Acacia shrublands 400 5
Lake Eyre LE &27.425 137.225 Hummock grasslands 200 6
Central Western Australia CW &24.125 124.175 Hummock grasslands 300 4
Simpson Desert SD &20.475 124.025 Hummock grasslands 400 3
Hamersley x HA &22.275 115.725 Hummock grasslands 400 5
Queensland Tussock QTU &21.225 143.075 Tussock grasslands 500 4
Sturt Plains x SP &17.175 133.375 Tussock grasslands 600 3
Northwest Queensland NWQ &19.525 140.025 Tussock grasslands 600 4
Great Western Woodlands x GWWF &31.925 120.075 Low closed forests and tall closed shrublands 400 2
Calperum x CP &34.025 140.375 Mallee woodlands and shrublands 300 2
West Australian wheat belt WAW &32.125 117.425 Cleared, non-native vegetation, buildings 400 2
Irrigated cropping IC &35.275 145.275 Cleared, non-native vegetation, buildings 400 3
Riggs Creek x RC &36.625 145.575 Cleared, non-native vegetation, buildings 800 2
Otway x OT &38.525 142.825 Cleared, non-native vegetation, buildings 1000 1
Cumberland Plain x CU &33.725 150.725 Cleared, non-native vegetation, buildings 1000 2
Arcturus x AR &23.875 149.275 Eucalypt open forests 800 3
Wombat x WO &37.425 144.075 Eucalypt open forests 1000 2
Wallaby Creek xWC &37.425 145.175 Eucalypt open forests 1200 2
Nimmo x NI &36.225 148.575 Eucalypt open forests 1600 2
Tumbarumba x TU &35.675 148.175 Eucalypt open forests 1600 2
Samford x SA &27.425 152.825 Eucalypt open forests 1600 2
Great Western Woodlands GWW &30.225 120.625 Eucalypt woodlands 300 3
Daly River Pasture x DRP &14.075 131.375 Eucalypt woodlands 1200 2
West of North Queensland WNQ &16.275 142.475 Eucalypt woodlands 1200 3
Howard Springs x HO &12.475 131.175 Eucalypt woodlands 1600 2
Dampier peninsula DP &15.125 125.725 Eucalypt woodlands 1600 3
Gingin x GG &31.375 115.725 Other forests and woodlands 800 1
Dry River x DR &15.275 132.375 Tropical Eucalypt woodlands/grasslands 1000 2
Dargo x DA &37.125 147.175 Other grasslands, herblands,
sedgelands and rushlands
Northwest Tasmania NWT &41.225 145.175 Rainforest and vine thickets 2000 1
Cape Tribulation x CT &16.125 145.375 Rainforest and vine thickets 8000 2
Daintree x DT &16.225 145.425 Rainforest and vine thickets 8000 2
Calculated as 30 year average.
Variability classes are provided as 30-year average. Higher rainfall variability classes indicate higher variability.
M. Broich et al. / Environmental Modelling & Software 64 (2015) 191e204 195
Fig. 3. Algorithm steps applied to the 14-year MODIS EVI time series (MOD13C2 single 0.05-degree pixel) for the Alice Springs ﬂux site representing semi-arid mulga (Acacia)
woodland of the centre of Australia. A: EVI time series after screening out low quality observations (brown circles), EVI time series after gap ﬁlling and smoothing (blue hollow
circles), and ﬂagged minimum and peak of episode points (green diamonds). B) Curves ﬁtted as 7-parameter double logistic functions (red squares), and identiﬁed start and end of
episode points (yellow circles) delineating the characterized LSP episodes. The timing, length, amplitude, and magnitudes of the LSP episodes at the Alice Springs ﬂux site vary
interannually. (For interpretation of the references to colour in this ﬁgure legend, the reader is referred to the web version of this article.)
Fig. 4. Examples of temporal variability of the characterized LSP episodes across 14-years for three OzFlux sites at Riggs Creek, Wallaby Creek, and Howard Springs that represent
dry land agriculture, wet temperate eucalypt forest and wet tropical open woodland savanna, respectively. Brown circles represent MODIS EVI time series after screening out low
quality observations, blue hollow circles represent the EVI time series after gap ﬁlling and smoothing, red squares represent the ﬁtted 7-parameter double logistic functions and
yellow circles represent the identiﬁed start and end of episode points. A LSP episode does not occur in every year and incomplete episodes take place in some years. (For inter-
pretation of the references to colour in this ﬁgure legend, the reader is referred to the web version of this article.)
M. Broich et al. / Environmental Modelling & Software 64 (2015) 191e204196
timing derived from GPP time series modelled for the Howard
Springs ﬂux site are shown in Table 4. The site showed one episode
per year with the Soe in the second half of the year and the Eoe in
the ﬁrst half of the following year. For the time overlap between the
EVI and GPP time series we identiﬁed 11 LSP episodes. The median
difference between the GPP and EVI-derived Soe points was one 16-
day time steps. The median difference between the GPP and EVI-
derived Eoe points was two 16-day time steps. The GPP-derived
Soe and Eoe points consistently preceded the EVI-derived Soe
and Eoe points. The maximum difference between the GPP-based
and EVI-based Soe and Eoe points was three 16-day time steps
following the GPP-based estimate.
3.3. Start and end of episode timing as examples of highly variable
We found the LSP of Australia to be highly variable across space
and time. To provide a ﬁrst insight into this variability we illus-
trated the timing of the LSP start and end of episode dates across
ENSO stages over the 14-year time series.
Fig. 7 shows the median of the ﬁrst yearly start and end of ep-
isodes' timing metric in La Ni~
na, neutral and El Ni~
(Australian Bureau of Meteorology, 2014c) demonstrating the
average response of the LSP metrics to ENSO-induced climate
variability. The ﬁgure also shows the difference between the 25%
and 75% quartiles of the start of episode metric and the difference
between the 25% and 75% quartiles of the end of episode metric
across the entire time series illustrating high variability in episodes'
timing mostly over the interior of Australia. For most areas, one LSP
episode per year is the norm whereas a second episode, which
occurs primarily in the Northern (and thereby warmer) parts of the
Southeast and Southwest Australian wheat belts (Fig. 8), may be
associated with double cropping.
3.4. Illustration of all LSP metrics for a dry year and a wet year case
We illustrate and contrast the LSP metrics across all of Australia
for the 2002 El Ni~
no dry year and the 2010 La Ni~
na wet year
(Australian Bureau of Meteorology, 2014c; Heberger, 2011). We
hereby demonstrate the product's information content and the LSP
episode metrics' response to ENSO-driven climate variability
(Heberger, 2011). For the dry year case (2002) we show the ﬁrst
minimum point, start of episode point, peak of episode point, end
of episode point, second minimum point, amplitude of the episode,
length of the episode, and episode integrated greenness (Fig. 9).
The point metrics have a magnitude and a time dimension.
The peak magnitude and episode integrated greenness in 2002
were largest along the North, East and Southeast Australian coasts,
in the Southwest of the continent as well as Tasmania (panel in the
centre of Fig. 9). The highest minimum point magnitudes (paler
grey areas) occur along the Eastern coast and across most of
Areas shown in white, which are mostly located in the interior of
Australia, mark pixels where a given metric did not occur in 2002.
These areas need to be viewed in the context of the LSP episode as,
for example, years with no phenological episode peak may repre-
sent situations where the LSP trajectory is tracking up towards a
peak in the following year, or browning down from a peak in the
previous year. For example, in Fig. 5 we saw that an episode ended
in 2002 but no new episode started and no peak occurred that year.
Fig. 5. Characterized LSP episodes for the Interior Southeastern Australia site derived from 14-years of MODIS EVI data after screening out low quality observations (brown circles),
EVI time series after gap ﬁlling and smoothing (blue hollow circles), ﬁtting 7-parameter double logistic functions (red squares) and start and end of episode points (yellow circles)
delineating the characterized LSP episodes. A LSP episode does not occur in every year. In some years, part of episodes or incomplete episodes are identiﬁed. (For interpretation of
the references to colour in this ﬁgure legend, the reader is referred to the web version of this article.)
Fig. 6. RMSE (grey squares) of the y-residual metrics of the LSP episodes modelled via subsequent 7-parameter double logistic curves and the raw EVI time series after screening out
low quality observations for the 36 test sites (for acronym description, please see Table 3) across the time series. The inter-quartile range (IQR ¼90% quartile - 10% quartile shownas
black diamonds) is provided as a proxy of the LSP amplitude to put the RMSE magnitude into context.
M. Broich et al. / Environmental Modelling & Software 64 (2015) 191e204 197
In 2008, an episode peaked but the associated minimum points
occurred in 2007 and 2009. This example illustrates that the white
areas in Fig. 9 are an expression of LSP where episodes do not start
and end within a year or where episodes may not occur in a given
During the 2010 La Ni~
na wet year case (Fig. 10), metrics such as
the minimum and peak points as well as the episode integrated
greenness were higher compared to the 2002 El Ni~
no dry year case,
an expected result given that vegetation responds quickly to
change in rainfall. In 2010 La Ni~
na-induced rainfall caused wide-
spread ﬂooding over Eastern Australia (Australian Bureau of
Meteorology, 2014c; Heberger, 2011). In general, for most pixels
across Australia, episodes started and ended in 2010 while in 2002
few areas showed an episode start, which we attribute to the dry
conditions. In Fig. 5, showing the sample trajectory for Interior
Southeastern Australia, an episode peak in early 2010 was detected.
This peak was followed by an end of episode, a minimum point and
a start of episode point in mid-2010 (Fig. 5). These dynamics are
shown in Fig. 10, which reveals that every metric except for a sec-
ond minimum point, which occurred in 2010 in the Interior
Southeastern site (Fig. 10 blue dot (in the web version)). For this
area of Australia, which is covered by sparse Mulga (Acacia aneura)
woodlands with a tussock grass understory (Department of the
Environment and Water Resources, 2007), the Australian Water
Availability Project (Raupach et al., 2009, 2012) shows high percent
rainfall ranks early and in the second half of 2010. The high
magnitude of the LSP peaks in 2010 and early 2011 and their dense
temporal spacing (Fig. 5) likely reﬂects the strong and rapid
response of the grass understory to rainfall.
For most pixels no second minimum point occurred within a
twelve month period (Fig. 8). The majority of exceptions is pixels
where a second episode started within a twelve-month period
and are over agricultural areas associated with double cropping
To further illustrate the contrast between the metrics of the
2002 dry and the 2010 wet year case shown in Figs. 9 and 10 above,
we provide a set of difference images in Fig. 11. As a consequence of
high rainfall amounts over large areas of Eastern Australia, the
timing of the ﬁrst minimum, start of episode and end of episode
point occurred earlier in the 2010 wet year as compared to the 2002
dry year. Conversely, the peak point occurred later in 2010 than in
2002. Over Eastern Australia, the 2010 greenness magnitude at all
of the point metrics as well as the amplitude and the episode in-
tegrated greenness metrics were higher and the length of the
episode metric was longer than the equivalent of these metrics in
2002. Note that only areas where a metric pair showed values in
2002 and 2010 are shown in Fig. 11. Given that the interior of
Australia is rainfall limited,
not every metric occurs in every year,
especially in dry years. Spatially continuous LSP metrics were
detected along coastal areas. The differences in metric values rep-
resenting the dry and wet year case are large, speciﬁcally in the East
where positive rainfall anomalies occurred in 2010 (Australian
Bureau of Meteorology, 2014c).
4.1. Key points regarding the utility of the Australian Land Surface
First, LSP episodes are subject to high interannual variability
especially for interior Australia. Second, across the rainfall-limited
interior of Australia, episodes may not occur every year. In some
years an episode may end without a new episode starting or an
episode may start after one or multiple years where no episode
occurred. Consequently, not every metric occurs every year as a
function of variable LSP episodes. This non-occurrence of metrics is
an important feature in the analysis of LSP. The non-occurrence of
metrics likely reﬂects periods that are too dry for vegetation
growth. Third, the metrics are sensitive to the effect of the 2002 El
no and the 2010 La Ni~
na, demonstrating the inﬂuence of climatic
variability on LSP across Australia. Large and small variability of
metric values as well as the non-occurrence of metrics is relevant
for studies aiming to understand ecosystems and their response to
Based on these ﬁndings, we suggest that users of the Australian
LSP product take advantage of the rich information content rep-
resented by analysing the set of LSP metrics in a temporally
continuous fashion that allows the characterization of individual
Bias, MAE and RMSE of the y-residual metrics of the LSP episodes modelled via
subsequent 7-parameter double logistic curves and the raw EVI time series after
screening out low quality observations for each of our 36 test sites. Inter-quartile
range (IQR ¼90% quartile e10% quartile) is provided as a proxy of the LSP ampli-
tude to put the residual metrics into context.
Site name Abbreviation
as in Fig. 2
Bias MAE RMSE Inter-quartile
Nullarbor NU 0.000 0.01 0.02 0.21
Great Blight Desert GBD 0.000 0.03 0.04 0.44
IEA &0.002 0.02 0.03 0.40
East of Shark bay ESB 0.000 0.02 0.03 0.21
Alice Springs AS 0.000 0.01 0.01 0.11
Lake Eyre LE &0.001 0.03 0.04 0.52
CW 0.000 0.00 0.01 0.09
Simpson Desert SD 0.000 0.00 0.01 0.07
Hamersley HA 0.000 0.01 0.01 0.13
Queensland Tussock QTU &0.001 0.02 0.03 0.36
Sturt Plains SP &0.002 0.01 0.02 0.25
NWQ 0.000 0.02 0.04 0.34
GWWF 0.000 0.00 0.01 0.06
Calperum CP 0.000 0.01 0.01 0.21
WAW 0.000 0.02 0.03 0.29
Irrigated cropping IC &0.003 0.02 0.03 0.23
Riggs Creek RC 0.001 0.01 0.02 0.25
Otway OT &0.002 0.02 0.04 0.22
Cumberland Plain CU 0.000 0.00 0.01 0.07
Arcturus AR 0.001 0.01 0.02 0.30
Wombat WO &0.001 0.01 0.01 0.09
Wallaby Creek WC 0.000 0.01 0.01 0.08
Nimmo NI &0.001 0.01 0.03 0.17
Tumbarumba TU 0.002 0.01 0.02 0.22
Samford SA &0.001 0.01 0.02 0.18
GWW 0.000 0.00 0.01 0.07
Daly River Pasture DRP 0.000 0.01 0.02 0.19
West of North
WNQ 0.001 0.01 0.02 0.27
Howard Springs HO &0.005 0.02 0.04 0.26
Dampier peninsula DP 0.000 0.02 0.04 0.16
Gingin GG 0.000 0.01 0.02 0.22
Dry River DR 0.000 0.01 0.01 0.10
Dargo DA &0.001 0.01 0.01 0.13
Northwest Tasmania NWT 0.001 0.03 0.04 0.52
Cape Tribulation CT 0.001 0.02 0.03 0.25
Daintree DT 0.000 0.00 0.01 0.10
See map of average annual, seasonal and monthly rainfall by the Australian
Government Bureau of Meteorology: http://www.bom.gov.au/jsp/ncc/climate_
M. Broich et al. / Environmental Modelling & Software 64 (2015) 191e204198
episodes. The demonstrated sensitivity of the metrics to dry and
wet years is expected to allow value added information extraction,
for example, for crop yield quantiﬁcation and ﬁre fuel accumulation
studies as well as questions requiring information about vegetation
response to disturbances and land use change. A more in depth
analysis of LSP response to decadal climate variability across
Australia can be found in Broich et al. (2014).
4.2. Implication of the current product's spatial and temporal
The Australian Land Surface Phenology Product Version 1 is
currently provided at 0.05-degree spatial resolution and the met-
rics are organized by calendar year.
The input data consist of 16-day EVI composites at a spatial
resolution of 0.05-degree.
The spatial and the temporal resolution have certain implica-
tions. The 16-day EVI compositing method results in less noisy time
series with less temporal resolution compared to daily observations
or 8-day composites. The 16-day EVI composites are generated
using the constrained view maximum value (CV-MVC) compositing
algorithm that selects the maximum EVI observed within a view
angle range of ±30
over a 16 day interval. The compositing
method aims to reduce the noise induced by undetected clouds,
cloud shadows and large, off-nadir view angles and favour high
quality observations recorded within the interval (Huete et al.,
1999; Solano et al., 2012).
The series of 0.05-degree MODIS climate modelling grid (CMG)
products is derived as an aggregate of higher spatial resolution
versions of the respective products. As a consequence of the spatial
aggregation procedure, the CMG products are likely less inﬂuenced
by bias in individual higher resolution pixels caused by undetected
clouds and view angle variation. Yet, this also implies that the
current product does not resolve ﬁne spatial detail in vegetation
cover such as riparian vegetation dynamics in a desert environment
where the fraction of soil reﬂection exceeds chlorophyll absorption
The identiﬁed LSP is a function of the spatial resolution of the
input data and studies such as de Beurs et al. (2009) have shown
the value of investigating LSP trends at multiple spatial resolutions.
Besides reducing the noise in time series, the 16-day composite
may also not resolve important details and key transition dates of
the LSP episodes (Zhang et al., 2009). To further investigate both of
these points, and to enable investigation at improved spatial detail,
future versions of the Australian Land Surface Phenology Product
will use higher spatial and temporal resolution input datasets such
as the 500-m spatial resolution, 16-day MOD13A1 Product. Using
the 500-m spatial resolution daily MOD09GA data is also under
consideration. Future studies should also aim to characterize the
extent to which biases may occur due to Bidirectional Reﬂectance
Distribution Function (BRDF) effects in sparse vegetation. The
development of a quality assurance model that quantiﬁes the un-
certainty of LSP episodes and LSP metrics is also planned for future
versions of the product.
We have currently organized the product's LSP metrics by cal-
endar year even though LSP episodes for certain areas of Australia
occurred at any time of the year, extend across the end of a year,
skip a year (did not occur for one or multiple years) or occurred
Direct value comparison of Soe and Eoe derived from GPP and MODIS EVI at the Howard Springs site.The ﬁrst two rows of the table show the difference between GPP-derived
and EVI-derived Soe and Eoe timing as number of 16-day time steps with positive numbers referring to EVI leading GPP and negative numbers referring toEVI following GPP.
The bottom four rows show the estimated Soe and Eoe expressed in day of year. The median of the difference between estimates and the median of the estimated day of year is
2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 Median
Difference in 16-day time steps Soe GPP eSoe EVI 1 0 &20&2&10&3&1&1&1e&1
Eoe GPP eEoe EVI e&1&2&1&3&2&1&3&3&2&2&1&2
Estimated day of year Soe GPP 273 273 289 289 257 273 273 273 273 257 241 e273
Soe EVI 257 273 321 289 289 289 273 321 289 273 257 e289
Eoe GPP e161 161 177 145 177 161 129 145 145 129 161 161
Eoe EVI e177 193 193 193 209 177 177 193 177 161 177 177
Fig. 7. Median day of year of the ﬁrst start of the LSP episode (Soe_1; top row) and ﬁrst end of the LSP episode (Eoe_1; bottom row) for La Ni~
na years, ‘neutral’years and El Ni~
years (Australian Bureau of Meteorology, 2014c). The difference in number of days between the 75% quartile and the 25% quartile of the ﬁrst start of the LSP episodes' across the time
series as well the difference in number of days between the 75% quartile and 25% quartile of the ﬁrst end of the LSP episodes' across the time series is shown in the right column.
(For interpretation of the references to colour in this ﬁgure legend, the reader is referred to the web version of this article.)
M. Broich et al. / Environmental Modelling & Software 64 (2015) 191e204 199
more than once a year. The implications are twofold: 1) There is no
ideal 12 month interval for organizing the data and more impor-
tantly 2) the derived LSP metrics are best analysed in a temporally
4.3. LSP episodes of vegetation greening and browning in the
context of vegetation productivity
The LSP metrics derived in the Australian Land Surface
Phenology Product are key variables that characterize LSP episodes
of vegetation greening and browning. EVI provides an approxi-
mation of sub-pixel chlorophyll content and leaf area index (Huete
et al., 2014). In temperature-limited ecosystems, low winter tem-
peratures reset the LSP episode (Nemani et al., 2003; Richardson
et al., 2013). The clear interruption of plant growth allows the use
of EVI integrated over a LSP episode as an approximation of net
primary productivity (Ponce Campos et al., 2013; Zhang et al.,
2013). Because EVI can be considered as a surrogate for the frac-
tion of absorbed photosynthetically active radiation, EVI integrated
over a LSP episode is near linearly related to vegetation primary
production and is a strong indicator for the yields of annual crops
(Xin et al., 2015).
However, using the episode integrated greenness metric (Eig) to
estimate productivity is more complex if sub-pixel vegetation cover
is sparse or if multi-layer (herbaceous and woody) or evergreen
woody vegetation occurs within a pixel. For example, over sparse
herbaceous vegetation, pixels with different sub-pixel vegetation
cover and spectral properties of the soil may have an identical Eig
Besides sparse vegetation cover, sub-pixel vegetation cover
consisting of mixed crops also complicates the use of integrated
greenness metric to estimate productivity (Xin et al., 2013, 2015).
Further, large areas of Australia are covered by savanna and open
Fig. 8. Number of years within the 14-year time series where two peaks occurred.
Double cropping is more commonly practiced in the northern parts of the Southeast
and Southwest Australian wheat belts (cropping and pasture areas according to
Lymburner et al. (2011) are shown with a blue outline). (For interpretation of the
references to colour in this ﬁgure legend, the reader is referred to the web version of
Fig. 9. Illustration of the thirteen LSP metrics in the 20 02 El Ni~
no dry year case. The metrics shown in the ﬁrst row are the timing (t) of the ﬁrst minimum point (Min_1), start of
episode (Soe_1), peak of episode point (Peak_1), end of episode point (Eoe_1), and second minimum point (Min_2). The metrics shown in the second row are the magnitude (vi) of
the ﬁrst minimum point (Min_1), start of episode (Soe_1), peak of episode point (Peak_1), end of episode point (Eoe_1), and second minimum point (Min_2). The metrics shown in
the third row are the amplitude (Amp_1), length of episode (Loe_1) and episode integrated greenness (Eig_1) of the ﬁrst episode that started in 2002. The blue circle represents the
location of the LSP time series shown in Fig. 5. Pixels where a given metric did not occur in 2002 are displayed in white. For details on the naming convention of the metrics and
organization of the data please refer to Figs. 12 and 13 and Table 5 in the Appendix. (For interpretation of the references to colour in this ﬁgure legend, the reader is referred to the
web version of this article.)
M. Broich et al. / Environmental Modelling & Software 64 (2015) 191e204200
temperate eucalypt forest that consist of an evergreen woody and
seasonally green herbaceous layer. The section of the integral below
the minimum or start and end of episode points could be used to
characterize the evergreen contribution of the woody layer and
separate it from the grassy understory in Australia's widespread
savannas and open forests (Donohue et al., 2009). Yet the magni-
tude of the minimum or start and end of episode changes during
wet and dry years, thus complicating the disaggregation of the
woody and the grassy layer signal. Separating the LSP signal into
herbaceous and evergreen woody fractions is the subject of
ongoing work (Guerschman et al., 2009, 2012; Lymburner et al.,
2011) and would be useful for applications such as ﬁre fuel load
Theoretically, dense evergreen forest vegetation in areas such
as the humid tropical areas of Northern Queensland or the forests
of Western Tasmania and higher elevation forests in the Great
Dividing Range should be productive throughout the year.
In these areas, however, undetected sub-pixel cloud cover may
cause a noisy EVI trajectory and increase the uncertainty of the
retrieved LSP metric. Previous studies have documented LSP epi-
sodes for humid tropical areas (e.g. Huete et al., 2006) as multiyear
average EVI time series. For most of Australia, persistent cloud
cover does not occur (Roy et al., 2006), making the above-
mentioned noise inﬂuence a localized effect. The development of a
quality assurance model that quantiﬁes the uncertainty is planned
for future versions of the Australian Land Surface Phenology
4.4. Model performance evaluation
Our characterization of the LSP curve via the 7-parameter
double logistic function was satisfactory for most sites, including
semi-arid and arid sites with high interannual LSP variability, as
shown in the concurrent comparison evaluation. However, certain
sites require further algorithm adjustment and methodological
development. Limitations were mostly identiﬁed over forested
evergreen sites due to the limited amplitude of EVI-derived LSP
episodes and the presence of high frequency noise likely due to
unscreened clouds. Examples are the Daintree site (rainforest and
vine thickets NVIS major class), the Tumburumba site and the
Wallaby Creek (Fig. 4) site before the ﬁre (both eucalypt open for-
ests according to NVIS major classes).
We also conducted a direct value comparison of our EVI LSP
start and end of the episode timing with the start and end of
episode derived from GPP at the Howard Springs ﬂux site. We
used the same algorithm to derive Soe and Eoe from the EVI and
GPP data. In general, the GPP-derived Soe and Eoe timing esti-
mates compare well with the estimates we derived from EVI. We
found that the GPP-derived estimate precedes the EVI-derived
estimate, a pattern that has also been identiﬁed by Ma et al.
(2013). EVI is a spectral index that is sensitive to chlorophyll
content and leaf area index (Huete et al., 2014) and the EVI tra-
jectory can differ from ﬂux tower-modelled GPP time series (Ma
et al., 2013). Ma et al. (2013) also provides a discussion and ref-
erences of possible reasons why GPP responds more rapidly to
Fig. 10. The thirteen LSP metrics in the 2010 La Ni~
na wet year case. The metrics shown in the ﬁrst row are the timing (t) of the ﬁrst minimum point (Min_1), start of episode (Soe_1),
peak of episode point (Peak_1), end of episode point (Eoe_1), and second minimum point (Min_2). The metrics shown in the second row are the magnitude (vi) of the ﬁrst minimum
point (Min_1), start of episode (Soe_1), peak of episode point (Peak_1), end of episode point (Eoe_1), and second minimum point (Min_2). The metrics shown in the third row are
the amplitude (Amp_1), length of episode (Loe_1) and episode integrated greenness (Eig_1) of the ﬁrst episode that started in 2002. The blue circle represents the location of the LSP
time series shown in Fig. 5. Pixels where a given metric did not occur in 2010 are displayed in white. For details on the naming convention of the metrics and organization of the
data please refer to Figs. 12 and 13 and Table 5 in the Appendix. (For interpretation of the references to colour in this ﬁgure legend, the reader is referred to the web version of this
M. Broich et al. / Environmental Modelling & Software 64 (2015) 191e204 201
changing conditions compared to LAI and chlorophyll concentra-
tion approximated by EVI.
The difference between the EVI and GPP Soe and Eoe
found here may also be related to the 16-day time step that
we used in this ﬁrst version of the Australian Land Surface
Phenology Product to preserve the temporal resolution of the
input EVI data.
Detailed validation of the LSP episodes’metrics is important
and the subject of ongoing research. A range of complementary
validation methods has been discussed in the literature (Liang and
Schwartz, 2009; Restrepo-Coupe et al., 2013; Richardson et al.,
2007). Methods include time series of ﬂux tower productivity
measurements as attempted by Ma et al. (2013). Other LSP vali-
dation methods include photosynthetically active radiation and
short wave radiation sensor measurements, and multispectral
image time series recorded by phenocameras mounted on ﬂux
towers as well as citizen science accessed via crowd sourcing
(Restrepo-Coupe et al., 2013). The coarse spatial scale of MODIS
pixels relative to ground-based measurements complicates the
validation of MODIS-derived LSP and ﬁner spatial resolution image
time series such as Landsat may be used as an intermediate step in
scaling ﬂux tower measurements to MODIS pixels (Kovalskyy et al.,
2012). The establishment of an Australian phenocamera network is
The Australian Land Surface Phenology Product presented here
is a continent-speciﬁc, synoptic dataset that allows the quantitative
analysis of Australia's LSP derived from the MODIS Enhanced
Vegetation Index (EVI) satellite image data stream using a model-
ling algorithm designed to accommodate the high climatic and
resulting high LSP variability of Australia. We developed the
Australian Land Surface Phenology Product as a contribution to the
Australian Terrestrial Ecosystem Research Network (TERN) and
disseminate it online and free of charge through the AusCover data
This paper introduced the Australian Land Surface Phenology
Product to support studies and applications requiring a character-
ization of the timing and magnitude of episodes of vegetation
greening and browning and quantitative information of episodes’
inter- and intraannual variability at the landscape to continental
scale from 2000 to 2013.
With the Australian Land Surface Phenology Product we provide
scientists and practitioners requiring a spatio-temporal character-
ization of vegetation dynamics with an accessible data set that
reduces the initial effort for quantitative spatio-temporal analysis
of crop yield, ﬁre fuel accumulation, inﬂuence of land use, climate
ﬂuctuation and climate change on natural and cultivated vegetation
Fig. 11. Difference between the thirteen LSP metrics of a dry-year case (2002) and a wet-year case (2010) shown in Figs. 9 and 10. The metrics shown in the ﬁrst row are the
difference in timing (t) of the ﬁrst minimum point (Min_1), start of episode (Soe_1), peak of episode point (Peak_1), end of episode point (Eoe_1), and second minimum point
(Min_2). The metrics shown in the second row are the difference in magnitude (vi) of the ﬁrst minimum point (Min_1), start of episode (Soe_1), peak of episode point (Peak_1), end
of episode point (Eoe_1), and second minimum point (Min_2). The metrics shown in the third row are the difference in amplitude (Amp_1), length of episode (Loe_1) and episode
integrated greenness (Eig_1) of the ﬁrst episode that started in 2002. The ﬁrst and second minimum points as well as the start of episode, peak and end of episode points have a
difference in time and difference in magnitude dimension. Red and blue areas in the time metrics mark location where the metric occurred earlier and later, respectively, in 2010
compared to 2002. Red and blue areas in the magnitude, amplitude length of episode and episode integrated greenness domain mark locations where the 2002 metrics were lower
(shorter) and higher (longer) than the in 2010 metrics, respectively. Black colour marks areas where a metric did not occur in 2002 or 2010. Not every metric is expected to occur
every year in the water limited interior of Australia. (For interpretation of the references to colour in this ﬁgure legend, the reader is referred to the web version of this article.)
M. Broich et al. / Environmental Modelling & Software 64 (2015) 191e204202
across large areas using remote sensing time series data. Such
analysis can include the investigation of short term LSP variability
and possibly change trends related to natural or anthropogenic
In this manuscript we provide users with the information
required for product utilization including speciﬁcation of input
data, the underlying processing algorithm, data access, data
structure and known limitations. We demonstrated the character-
ization of LSP episodes and derived episode metrics for sample sites
representing different vegetation cover and climatic conditions as
well as an initial investigation of the response of the LSP metrics to
rainfall variation in an ENSO-induced wet and a dry year across
Australia. The intra- and interannual variability of LSP episodes
across Australia can be high and has been characterized here for the
ﬁrst time. Not every LSP metric occurs in every year. Both the high
interannual variability of LSP episodes and the non-occurrence of
metrics in certain years and areas are a function of rainfall vari-
ability predominantly in the interior of Australia.
Future releases of the Australian Land Surface Phenology Prod-
uct will include multi-resolution versions of the product including
a 0.05-degree and a 500-m spatial resolution version based on 16-
day data. These multi-resolution versions will help satisfy the
needs of a wider user community by overcoming some of the
limitations associated with the current spatial resolution of 0.05-
degree. Forthcoming releases may also use heritage and new
remote sensing data streams such as Advanced Very High Resolu-
tion Radiometer (AVHRR), MEdium Resolution Imaging Spectrom-
eter (MERIS), Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite (VIIRS),
and Sentinel 3 Ocean Land Colour Instrument (OLCI) to provide
longer time series and further advance the characterization of LSP
episodes and the quantiﬁcation of their variability in support of
Australian's cross disciplinary scientiﬁc applications and land re-
sources monitoring and management. The methodology for
deriving LSP from satellite image data time series developed here
can also be applied to other semi-arid and arid zones of the globe
such as for example the deserts and semi deserts of South America,
Asia and Africa.
The development of the Australian Land Surface Phenology
Product was funded by the AusCover Facility of the Australian
Terrestrial Ecosystem Research Network (TERN) (http://www.tern.
org.au) and supported by the ARC-DP1115479 grant entitled
“Integrating remote sensing, landscape ﬂux measurements, and
phenology to understand the impacts of climate change on
Australian landscapes”(Huete, CI). Calculations were performed on
the University of Technology, Sydney eResearch high performance
computing facility. Beringer is funded under an ARC FT (FT1110602)
and savanna data collection was supported by DP0772981 and
DP130101566. Support for collection, development and archiving
was provided through TERN's AusCover facility.
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