Date of this Version
GIScience & Remote Sensing, 2010, 47, No. 1, p. 25–52.
The vegetation outlook (VegOut) is a geospatial tool for predicting general vegetation condition patterns across large areas. VegOut predicts a standardized seasonal greenness (SSG) measure, which represents a general indicator of relative vegetation health. VegOut predicts SSG values at multiple time steps (two to six weeks into the future) based on the analysis of “historical patterns” (i.e., patterns at each 1 km grid cell and time of the year) of satellite, climate, and oceanic data over an 18-year period (1989 to 2006). The model underlying VegOut capitalizes on historical climate–vegetation interactions and ocean–climate teleconnections (such as El Niño and the Southern Oscillation, ENSO) expressed over the 18-year data record and also considers several environmental characteristics (e.g., land use/cover type and soils) that influence vegetation’s response to weather conditions to produce 1 km maps that depict future general vegetation conditions. VegOut provides regional level vegetation monitoring capabilities with local-scale information (e.g., county to sub-county level) that can complement more traditional remote sensing–based approaches that monitor “current” vegetation conditions. In this paper, the VegOut approach is discussed and a case study over the central United States for selected periods of the 2008 growing season is presented to demonstrate the potential of this new tool for assessing and predicting vegetation conditions.