Assessing vegetation response to drought in the Laohahe catchment, North China

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Courtesy of IWA Publishing

In order to better understand the relationship between vegetation vigour and moisture availability, a correlation analysis based on different vegetation types was conducted between time series of monthly Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI) and Palmer Drought Severity Index (PDSI) during the growing season from April to October within the Laohahe catchment. It was found that NDVI had good correlation with PDSI, especially for shrub and grass. The correlation between NDVI and PDSI varies significantly from one month to another. The highest value of correlation coefficients appears in June when the vegetation is growing; lower correlations are noted at the end of growing season for all vegetation types. The influence of meteorological drought on vegetation vigour is stronger in the first half of the growing season, before the vegetation reaches the peak greenness. In order to take the seasonal effect into consideration, a regression model with seasonal dummy variables was used to simulate the relationship between NDVI and PDSI. The results showed that the NDVI–PDSI relationship is significant (α = 0.05) within the growing season, and that NDVI is an effective indicator to monitor and detect droughts if seasonal timing is taken into account.

Keywords: correlation analysis, drought, NDVI, Palmer drought severity index, regression analysis

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