NTRS - NASA Technical Reports Server

Back to Results
Assessing Woody Vegetation Trends in Sahelian Drylands Using MODIS Based Seasonal MetricsWoody plants play a major role for the resilience of drylands and in peoples' livelihoods. However, due to their scattered distribution, quantifying and monitoring woody cover over space and time is challenging. We develop a phenology driven model and train/validate MODIS (MCD43A4, 500m) derived metrics with 178 ground observations from Niger, Senegal and Mali to estimate woody cover trends from 2000 to 2014 over the entire Sahel. The annual woody cover estimation at 500 m scale is fairly accurate with an RMSE of 4.3 (woody cover %) and r(exp 2) = 0.74. Over the 15 year period we observed an average increase of 1.7 (+/- 5.0) woody cover (%) with large spatial differences: No clear change can be observed in densely populated areas (0.2 +/- 4.2), whereas a positive change is seen in sparsely populated areas (2.1 +/- 5.2). Woody cover is generally stable in cropland areas (0.9 +/- 4.6), reflecting the protective management of parkland trees by the farmers. Positive changes are observed in savannas (2.5 +/- 5.4) and woodland areas (3.9 +/- 7.3). The major pattern of woody cover change reveals strong increases in the sparsely populated Sahel zones of eastern Senegal, western Mali and central Chad, but a decreasing trend is observed in the densely populated western parts of Senegal, northern Nigeria, Sudan and southwestern Niger. This decrease is often local and limited to woodlands, being an indication of ongoing expansion of cultivated areas and selective logging.We show that an overall positive trend is found in areas of low anthropogenic pressure demonstrating the potential of these ecosystems to provide services such as carbon storage, if not over-utilized. Taken together, our results provide an unprecedented synthesis of woody cover dynamics in theSahel, and point to land use and human population density as important drivers, however only partially and locally offsetting a general post-drought increase.
Document ID
Document Type
Reprint (Version printed in journal)
Brandt, Martin
(Copenhagen Univ. Denmark)
Hiernaux, Pierre
(Observatoire de Midi-Pyrenees Toulouse, France)
Rasmussen, Kjeld
(Copenhagen Univ. Denmark)
Mbow, Cheikh
(International Centre for Research in AgroForestry Nairobi, Kenya)
Kergoat, Laurent
(Observatoire de Midi-Pyrenees Toulouse, France)
Tagesson, Torbern
(Copenhagen Univ. Denmark)
Ibrahim, Yahaya Z.
(Leicester Univ. United Kingdom)
Wele, Abdoulaye
(Center for Ecological Monitoring Dakar, Senegal)
Tucker, Compton J.
(NASA Goddard Space Flight Center Greenbelt, MD, United States)
Fensholt, Rasmus
(Copenhagen Univ. Denmark)
Date Acquired
April 7, 2017
Publication Date
June 9, 2016
Publication Information
Publication: Remote Sensing
Volume: 183
ISSN: 0034-4257
Subject Category
Earth Resources And Remote Sensing
Report/Patent Number
Funding Number(s)
Distribution Limits

Available Downloads

There are no available downloads for this record.
No Preview Available