Skip to page content
USDA Forest Service

Research & Development Treesearch

Treesearch Home
About Treesearch
Contact Us
Research & Development
Forest Products Lab
International Institute of Tropical Forestry
Pacific Northwest
Pacific Southwest
Rocky Mountain
Southern Research Station
Help - We Participate  Government Made Easy

Global Forest Information Service

US Forest Service
P.O. Box 96090
Washington, D.C.

(202) 205-8333

You are here: Home / Search / Publication Information
Bookmark and Share

Publication Information

View PDF (794.0 KB bytes)

Title: Trends in NDVI and tundra community composition in the Arctic of NE Alaska between 1984 and 2009

Author: Pattison, Robert R.; Jorgenson, Janet C.; Raynolds, Martha K.; Welker, Jeffery M.;

Date: 2015

Source: Ecosystems June 2015

Publication Series: Scientific Journal (JRNL)

Description: As Arctic ecosystems experience increases in surface air temperatures, plot-level analyses of tundra vegetation composition suggest that there are important changes occurring in tundra communities that are typified by increases in shrubs and declines in non-vascular species. At the same time analyses of NDVI indicate that the Arctic tundra is greening. Few studies have combined plot-level trends in species composition and cover with remote sensing measurements to understand the linkages between tundra vegetation dynamics and NDVI over time. This study reports on trends in species composition for field plots in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in NE Alaska from 1984 to 2009 and links these trends to the trends in NDVI at fine and coarse scales. Over this time frame there were few changes in plant community composition. None of the five tundra types that were measured had increases in total vegetative cover, and deciduous shrub cover did not show the large increases reported elsewhere. Surface-(plot) measured NDVI was positively correlated to deciduous and evergreen shrub composition suggesting that these functional groups had a strong influence on NDVI values. Modeled values of NDVI, derived from measures of deciduous and evergreen shrub composition over time, decreased slightly for tussock tundra but did not change for other tundra types. This result suggests that surface NDVI did not change over time on these tundra types. Fine-scale (30-m pixels) Landsat NDVI also did not show any changes for the pixels located at the permanent plots (1992–2009). However, coarse-scale (8-km pixels) AVHRR NDVI across the study area did increase (1988–2007). Furthermore, aggregate values of Landsat pixels matching the same area as AVHRR pixels also did not show significant changes over time. Although Landsat NDVI was consistent with surface-measured NDVI, AVHRR NDVI was not. AVHRR NDVI values showed increases that were in neither the field nor Landsat data. This result suggests that AVHRR may be demonstrating increasing trends in NDVI that are not occurring on the ground in some Arctic tundra ecosystems. These results highlight the need to combine remote sensing with on-the-ground measurements of plant community composition and NDVI in the analysis of the responses of Arctic tundra ecosystems to climate change.

Keywords: tundra, NDVI, shrubs, Arctic, climate change, warming

Publication Notes:

  • We recommend that you also print this page and attach it to the printout of the article, to retain the full citation information.
  • This article was written and prepared by U.S. Government employees on official time, and is therefore in the public domain.



Pattison, Robert R.; Jorgenson, Janet C.; Raynolds, Martha K.; Welker, Jeffery M. 2015. Trends in NDVI and tundra community composition in the Arctic of NE Alaska between 1984 and 2009. Ecosystems. 18(4): 707-719.


 [ Get Acrobat ]  Get the latest version of the Adobe Acrobat reader or Acrobat Reader for Windows with Search and Accessibility

USDA logo which links to the department's national site. Forest Service logo which links to the agency's national site.