The grass is not always greener on the other side: Seasonal reversal of vegetation greenness in aspect-driven semiarid ecosystems

Geophysical Research Letters
By: , and 

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Abstract

Our current understanding of semiarid ecosystems is that they tend to display higher vegetation greenness on polar-facing slopes (PFS) than on equatorial-facing slopes (EFS). However, recent studies have argued that higher vegetation greenness can occur on EFS during part of the year. To assess whether this seasonal reversal of aspect-driven vegetation is a common occurrence, we conducted a global scale analysis of vegetation greenness on a monthly time scale over an 18-year period (2000-2017). We examined the influence of climate seasonality on the normalised difference vegetation index (NDVI) values of PFS and EFS at 60 different catchments with aspect-controlled vegetation located across all continents except Antarctica. Our results show that an overwhelming majority of sites (70%) display seasonal reversal, associated with transitions from water-limited to energy-limited conditions during wet winters. These findings highlight the need to consider seasonal variations of aspect-driven vegetation patterns in ecohydrology, geomorphology, and earth system models.

Additional publication details

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title The grass is not always greener on the other side: Seasonal reversal of vegetation greenness in aspect-driven semiarid ecosystems
Series title Geophysical Research Letters
DOI 10.1029/2020GL088918
Volume 47
Issue 15
Year Published 2020
Language English
Publisher American Geophysical Union
Contributing office(s) Geosciences and Environmental Change Science Center
Description e2020GL088918, 12 p.
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