Providing a Spatial Context for Crop Insurance in Ethiopia: Multiscale Comparisons of Vegetation Metrics in Tigray

Thursday, 18 December 2014: 5:15 PM
Bristol F. Mann, International Research Institute for Climate and Society, Columbia University, Palisades, NY, United States and Christopher Small, Lamont Doherty Earth Obs., Palisades, NY, United States
Weather-based index insurance projects are rapidly expanding across the developing world. Many of these projects use satellite-based observations to detect extreme weather events, which inform and trigger payouts to smallholder farmers. While most index insurance programs use precipitation measurements to determine payouts, the use of remotely sensed observations of vegetation is currently being explored. In order to use vegetation indices as a basis for payouts, it is necessary to establish a consistent relationship between the vegetation index and the health and abundance of agriculture on the ground. The accuracy with which remotely sensed vegetation indices can detect changes in agriculture depends on both the spatial scale of the agriculture and the spatial resolution of the sensor. This study analyzes the relationship between meter and decameter scale vegetation fraction estimates derived from linear spectral mixture models with a more commonly used vegetation index (NDVI, EVI) at hectometer spatial scales. In addition, the analysis incorporates land cover/land use field observations collected in Tigray Ethiopia in July 2013. . It also tests the flexibility and utility of a standardized spectral mixture model in which land cover is represented as continuous fields of rock and soil substrate (S), vegetation (V) and dark surfaces (D; water, shadow). This analysis found strong linear relationships with vegetation metrics at 1.6-meter, 30-meter and 250-meter resolutions across spectrally diverse subsets of Tigray, Ethiopia and significantly correlated relationships using the Spearman’s rho statistic. The observed linear scaling has positive implications for future use of moderate resolution vegetation indices in similar landscapes; especially index insurance projects that are scaling up across the developing world using remotely-sensed environmental information.