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Integrating eddy fluxes and remote sensing products in a rotational grazing native tallgrass prairie pasture

Pradeep Wagle, Prasanna H. Gowda, James P.S. Neel, Brian K. Northup, Yuting Zhou
Science of the total environment 2020 v.712 pp. 136407
Landsat, carbon dioxide, ecosystems, eddy covariance, image analysis, indigenous species, models, moderate resolution imaging spectroradiometer, pastures, phenology, remote sensing, rotational grazing, spatial variation, tallgrass prairies, vegetation index
Eddy covariance (EC) systems provide integrated fluxes within their footprint areas. Spatial heterogeneity of up-scaled areas and spatio-temporal mismatches between EC footprint and remote sensing pixels jeopardize the performance of most satellite-based models. To examine the impact of spatial resolution of satellite products on up-scaling of fluxes, we compared the relationships between measured eddy fluxes and enhanced vegetation index (EVI) derived from the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) at 500 and 250 m spatial resolutions, Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite (VIIRS) at 500 m spatial resolution, and Landsat at 30 m spatial resolution but integrated at the paddock-scale. The experiment was conducted over a grazed native tallgrass prairie pasture, which was divided into nine paddocks for rotational grazing. The EVI data from all satellites showed consistency in detecting vegetation phenology. Seasonality of EC-measured fluxes corresponded well with remotely-sensed vegetation phenology. Approximately 80% of contribution to eddy fluxes came from within 80 m upwind distance of the 2.7 m tall EC tower. As a result, the major contributing area for the measured fluxes was mostly limited to the paddock containing the EC tower. Different timings and duration of grazing caused some heterogeneity among paddocks within the pasture. The EVI of different spatial scales showed strong relationships with CO₂ fluxes. However, Landsat-derived EVI integrated for the paddock containing the EC tower showed substantially stronger relationships with CO₂ fluxes than did MODIS and VIIRS-derived EVI integrated for multiple paddocks, most likely due to similar spatial resolutions of remote sensing and EC observations. Results illustrate that satellite products of fine-scale spatial resolution that are comparable to EC footprints can help improve the performance of satellite-based models for modeling or up-scaling of eddy fluxes, especially in heterogeneous ecosystems.