Deakin University
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Spring snow cover duration and tundra greenness in the Lena Delta, Siberia: two decades of MODIS satellite time series (2001-2021)

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posted on 2022-11-10, 01:35 authored by Birgit Heim, Simeon Lisovski, Mareike Wieczorek, Anne Morgenstern, Bennet Juhls, Iuliia Shevtsova, Stefan Kruse, Julia Boike, Irina Fedorova, Ulrike Herzschuh
The Lena Delta in Siberia is the largest delta in the Arctic and as a snow-dominated ecosystem particularly vulnerable to climate change. Using the two decades of MODerate resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer satellite acquisitions, this study investigates interannual and spatial variability of snow-cover duration and summer vegetation vitality in the Lena Delta. We approximated snow by the application of the normalized difference snow index and vegetation greenness by the normalized difference vegetation index (NDVI). We consolidated the analyses by integrating reanalysis products on air temperature from 2001 to 2021, and air temperature, ground temperature, and the date of snow-melt from time-lapse camera (TLC) observations from the Samoylov observatory located in the central delta. We extracted spring snow-cover duration determined by a latitudinal gradient. The ‘regular year’ snow-melt is transgressing from mid-May to late May within a time window of 10 days across the delta. We calculated yearly deviations per grid cell for two defined regions, one for the delta, and one focusing on the central delta. We identified an ensemble of early snow-melt years from 2012 to 2014, with snow-melt already starting in early May, and two late snow-melt years in 2004 and 2017, with snow-melt starting in June. In the times of TLC recording, the years of early and late snow-melt were confirmed. In the three summers after early snow-melt, summer vegetation greenness showed neither positive nor negative deviations. Whereas, vegetation greenness was reduced in 2004 after late snow-melt together with the lowest June monthly air temperature of the time series record. Since 2005, vegetation greenness is rising, with maxima in 2018 and 2021. The NDVI rise since 2018 is preceded by up to 4 °C warmer than average June air temperature. The ongoing operation of satellite missions allows to monitor a wide range of land surface properties and processes that will provide urgently needed data in times when logistical challenges lead to data gaps in land-based observations in the rapidly changing Arctic



Environmental Research Letters



Article number





Bristol, Eng.

Open access

  • Yes







Publication classification

C1.1 Refereed article in a scholarly journal




IOP Publishing