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Biophysical characterization and management effects on semiarid rangeland observed from Landsat ETM+ data

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9 Author(s)
Hongliang Fang ; Dept. of Geogr., Univ. of Maryland, College Park, MD, USA ; Shunlin Liang ; McClaran, M.P. ; van Leeuwen, W.J.D.
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Semiarid rangelands are very sensitive to global climatic change; studies of their biophysical attributes are crucial to understanding the dynamics of rangeland ecosystems under human disturbance. In the Santa Rita Experimental Range, AZ, the vegetation has changed considerably, and there have been many management activities applied. This study calculates seven surface variables: the enhanced vegetation index, the normalized difference vegetation index (NDVI), surface albedos (total shortwave, visible, and near-infrared), leaf area index (LAI), and the fraction of photosynthetically active radiation (FPAR) absorbed by green vegetation from the Enhanced Thematic Mapper (ETM+) data. Comparison with the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer vegetation index and albedo products indicates they agree well with our estimates from ETM+, while their LAI and FPAR are larger than from ETM+. Human disturbance has significantly changed the cover types and biophysical conditions. Statistical tests indicate that surface albedos increased and FPAR decreased following tree-cutting disturbances. The recovery will require more than 67 years and is about 50% complete within 40 years at the higher elevation. Grass cover, vegetation indexes, albedos, and LAI recovered from cutting faster at the higher elevation. Woody plants, vegetation indexes, and LAI have recovered to their original characteristics after 65 years at the lower elevation. More studies are needed to examine the spectral characteristics of different ground components.

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Geoscience and Remote Sensing, IEEE Transactions on  (Volume:43 ,  Issue: 1 )