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Research article2024Peer reviewedOpen access

A satellite-field phenological bridging framework for characterizing community-level spring forest phenology using multi-scale satellite imagery

Diao, Chunyuan; Augspurger, Carol K.; Zhao, Yilun; Salk, Carl F.


Forest phenology, as a sensitive indicator of a forest's response to climate change and variability, has long been monitored using remote sensing, yet has seldom been interpreted or validated with spatially compatible, community-level field phenological observations. In temperate deciduous forests, multiple spring phenological phases are critical for modeling carbon storage and biogeochemical cycles. The simultaneous detection of all these critical phenological phases at the community level remains a long-standing challenge. To tackle these challenges, the objective of this study is to develop a novel satellite-field phenological bridging framework for characterizing all key spring phenological phases of a fragmented deciduous forest using multi-scale satellite time series. The framework consists of four key components: deep learning-based spatiotemporal image fusion, satellite-based forest phenology modeling, satellite-based forest phenological metric extraction, and field-based forest community phenological characterization. With the devised framework, we extract a total of 24 satellite phenological metrics of Trelease Woods, a forest fragment near Urbana, IL, USA. From weekly field phenological observations of 148 canopy trees of 15 common species of the forest community, we devise three summative field phenological indices to characterize community-level phenological states in spring. Under the satellite-field bridging framework, events during each key spring forest phenological phase (i.e., bud swell, budburst/leafing out, leaf expansion, and leaf maturity) are successfully detected using the fusion imagery (MAE from 1.1 to 2.9 days and bias from -2.4 to 1.5 days). However, the satellite detection of the earliest field events may be influenced by understory plants, soil background, and snow. The subsequent multi-scale, satellite phenological analysis underscores the importance of taking into account spatial scale and representation from both satellite and field phenological perspectives in building corresponding bridging relationships. Among the extracted pheno-metrics, bridging the threshold-based metrics to field phenological indices results in the highest accuracy (MAE less than 3 days and bias less than 2 days). The strong agreement among the field indices demonstrates the effectiveness of our field phenological surveying approach in generating community-wide forest phenological representation. Our study innovatively scales up the field phenological observations from the individual trees to the species to the community level, and the devised framework enables accurate retrieval of all key phenological events of community-wide, spring canopy development of the forest fragment.


Spring phenology; Forest community; Remote sensing; Field observations; Phenological indicator

Published in

ISPRS Journal of Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing
2024, Volume: 211, pages: 83-103
Publisher: ELSEVIER

    UKÄ Subject classification

    Remote Sensing
    Forest Science

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