Vegetation Health and Productivity Indicators for Sustained National Climate Assessments

Friday, 19 December 2014: 4:45 PM
Matthew O Jones, NTSG - University of Montana, Missoula, MT, United States and Steven W Running, University of Montana, Missoula, MT, United States
The National Climate Assessment process is developing a system of physical, ecological, and societal indicators that communicate key aspects of the physical climate, climate impacts, vulnerabilities, and preparedness for the purpose of informing both decision makers and the public. Implementing a 14 year record of Gross and Net Primary Productivity (GPP/NPP) derived from the NASA EOS MODIS satellite sensor we demonstrate how these products can serve as Ecosystem Productivity and Vegetation Health National Climate Indicators for implementation in sustained National Climate Assessments. The NPP product combines MODIS vegetation data with daily global meteorology to calculate annual growth of all plant material at 1 sq. km resolution. NPP anomalies identify regions with above or below average plant growth that may result from climate fluctuations and can inform carbon source/sink dynamics, agricultural and forestry yield measures, and response to wildfire or drought conditions. The GPP product provides a high temporal resolution (8-day) metric of vegetation growth which can be used to monitor short-term vegetation response to extreme events and implemented to derive vegetation phenology metrics; growing season start, end, and length, which can elucidate land cover and regionally specific vegetation responses to a changing climate. The high spatial resolution GPP and NPP indicators can also inform and clarify responses seen from other proposed Pilot Indicators such as forest growth/productivity, land cover, crop production, and phenology. The GPP and NPP data are in continuous production and will be sustained into the future with the next generation satellite missions. The long-term Ecosystem Productivity and Vegetation Health Indicators are ideal for use in sustained National Climate Assessments, providing regionally specific responses to a changing climate and complete coverage at the national scale.