CALMIT: Center for Advanced Land Management Information Technologies


Date of this Version



Published in Climatic Change 60 (2003), pp. 175–188. Copyright © 2003 Kluwer Academic Publishers. Used by permission.

Published as Paper No. 13698, Journal Series, Nebraska Agricultural Research Division.


El Niño/Southern Oscillation (ENSO) is considered one of the most powerful forces driving anomalous global weather patterns. Large-scale seasonal precipitation and temperature changes influenced by ENSO have been examined in many areas of the world. The southeastern United States is one of the regions affected by ENSO events. In this study, remote sensing detection of vegetation response to ENSO phases is demonstrated with one-kilometer biweekly Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI) data (1989–1999) derived from the Advanced Very High Resolution Radiometer (AVHRR). The impacts of three ENSO phases, cold, warm and neutral, on vegetation were analyzed with a focus on two vegetation cover types, two seasons and two geographic regions within the southeastern U.S. Significant ENSO effects on vegetation were found in cropland and forest vegetation cover types based on image and statistical analysis of the NDVI data. The results indicate that vegetation condition was optimal during the ENSO neutral phase for both agricultural and natural vegetation