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Land surface phenology and greenness in Alpine grasslands driven by seasonal snow and meteorological factors


Xie, Jing; Jonas, Tobias; Rixen, Christian; de Jong, Rogier; Garonna, Irene; Notarnicola, Claudia; Asam, Sarah; Schaepman, Michael E; Kneubühler, Mathias (2020). Land surface phenology and greenness in Alpine grasslands driven by seasonal snow and meteorological factors. Science of the Total Environment, 725:138380.

Abstract

Snow accumulation and melt have multiple impacts on Land Surface Phenology (LSP) and greenness in Alpine grasslands. Our understanding of these impacts and their interactions with meteorological factors are still limited. In this study, we investigate this topic by analyzing LSP dynamics together with potential drivers, using satellite imagery and other data sources. LSP (start and end of season) and greenness metrics were extracted from time series of vegetation and leaf area index. As explanatory variables we used snow accumulation, snow cover melt date and meteorological factors. We tested for inter-annual co-variation of LSP and greenness metrics with seasonal snow and meteorological metrics across elevations and for four sub-regions of natural grasslands in the Swiss Alps over the period 2003–2014. We found strong positive correlations of snow cover melt date and snow accumulation with the start of season, especially at higher elevation. Autumn temperature was found to be important at the end of season below 2000 m above sea level (m asl), while autumn precipitation was relevant above 2000 m asl, indicating climatic growth limiting factors to be elevation dependent. The effects of snow and meteorological factors on greenness revealed that this metric tends to be influenced by temperatures at high elevations, and by snow melt date at low elevations. Given the high sensitivity of alpine grassland ecosystems, these results suggest that alpine grasslands may be particularly affected by future changes in seasonal snow, to varying degree depending on elevation.

Abstract

Snow accumulation and melt have multiple impacts on Land Surface Phenology (LSP) and greenness in Alpine grasslands. Our understanding of these impacts and their interactions with meteorological factors are still limited. In this study, we investigate this topic by analyzing LSP dynamics together with potential drivers, using satellite imagery and other data sources. LSP (start and end of season) and greenness metrics were extracted from time series of vegetation and leaf area index. As explanatory variables we used snow accumulation, snow cover melt date and meteorological factors. We tested for inter-annual co-variation of LSP and greenness metrics with seasonal snow and meteorological metrics across elevations and for four sub-regions of natural grasslands in the Swiss Alps over the period 2003–2014. We found strong positive correlations of snow cover melt date and snow accumulation with the start of season, especially at higher elevation. Autumn temperature was found to be important at the end of season below 2000 m above sea level (m asl), while autumn precipitation was relevant above 2000 m asl, indicating climatic growth limiting factors to be elevation dependent. The effects of snow and meteorological factors on greenness revealed that this metric tends to be influenced by temperatures at high elevations, and by snow melt date at low elevations. Given the high sensitivity of alpine grassland ecosystems, these results suggest that alpine grasslands may be particularly affected by future changes in seasonal snow, to varying degree depending on elevation.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:07 Faculty of Science > Institute of Geography
08 Research Priority Programs > Global Change and Biodiversity
Dewey Decimal Classification:910 Geography & travel
Scopus Subject Areas:Physical Sciences > Environmental Engineering
Physical Sciences > Environmental Chemistry
Physical Sciences > Waste Management and Disposal
Physical Sciences > Pollution
Uncontrolled Keywords:Environmental Engineering, Waste Management and Disposal, Pollution, Environmental Chemistry
Language:English
Date:1 July 2020
Deposited On:09 Jun 2020 13:53
Last Modified:24 May 2024 01:37
Publisher:Elsevier
ISSN:0048-9697
OA Status:Closed
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.scitotenv.2020.138380