Locations of the Yamal Peninsula study area and the four bioclimatic subzones: subzone B, subzone C, subzone D, and subzone E
Figure 1. Locations of the Yamal Peninsula study area and the four bioclimatic subzones: subzone B, subzone C, subzone D, and subzone E.
There is an urgent need to reduce the uncertainties in remotely sensed detection of phenological shifts of high latitude ecosystems in response to climate changes in past decades. In this study, vegetation phenology in western Arctic Russia (the Yamal Peninsula) was investigated by analyzing and comparing Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI) time series derived from the Advanced Very High Resolution Radiometer (AVHRR), the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS), and SPOT-Vegetation (VGT) during the decade 2000–2010. The spatial patterns of key phenological parameters were highly heterogeneous along the latitudinal gradients based on multi-satellite data. There was earlier SOS (start of the growing season), later EOS (end of the growing season), longer LOS (length of the growing season), and greater MaxNDVI from north to south in the region. The results based on MODIS and VGT data showed similar trends in phenological changes from 2000 to 2010, while quite a different trend was found based on AVHRR data from 2000 to 2008. A significantly delayed EOS (p < 0.01), thus increasing the LOS, was found from AVHRR data, while no similar trends were detected from MODIS and VGT data. There were no obvious shifts in MaxNDVI during the last decade. MODIS and VGT data were considered to be preferred data for monitoring vegetation phenology in northern high latitudes. Temperature is still a key factor controlling spatial phenological gradients and variability, while anthropogenic factors (reindeer husbandry and resource exploitation) might explain the delayed SOS in southern Yamal. Continuous environmental damage could trigger a positive feedback to the delayed SOS.