Using NDVI to measure precipitation in semi-arid landscapes

Journal of Arid Environments
By: , and 

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Abstract

Measuring precipitation in semi-arid landscapes is important for understanding the processes related to rainfall and run-off; however, measuring precipitation accurately can often be challenging especially within remote regions where precipitation instruments are scarce. Typically, rain-gauges are sparsely distributed and research comparing rain-gauge and RADAR precipitation estimates reveal that RADAR data are often misleading, especially for monsoon season convective storms. This study investigates an alternative way to map the spatial and temporal variation of precipitation inputs along ephemeral stream channels using Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI) derived from Landsat Thematic Mapper imagery. NDVI values from 26 years of pre- and post-monsoon season Landsat imagery were derived across Yuma Proving Ground (YPG), a region covering 3,367 km2 of semiarid landscapes in southwestern Arizona, USA. The change in NDVI from a pre-to post-monsoon season image along ephemeral stream channels explained 73% of the variance in annual monsoonal precipitation totals from a nearby rain-gauge. In addition, large seasonal changes in NDVI along channels were useful in determining when and where flow events have occurred.

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Additional publication details

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Using NDVI to measure precipitation in semi-arid landscapes
Series title Journal of Arid Environments
DOI 10.1016/j.jaridenv.2016.04.004
Volume 131
Year Published 2016
Language English
Publisher Academic Press
Contributing office(s) Fort Collins Science Center
Description 10 p.
First page 15
Last page 24
Country United States
State Arizona
Other Geospatial Sonoran Desert, Yuma Proving Ground
Online Only (Y/N) N
Additional Online Files (Y/N) N