EGU General Assembly 2020
© Author(s) 2020. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Exploring the relationship between phenology and hydrology using Sentinel-2 and terrestrial photography in Mediterranean grasslands

Pedro Jesús Gómez-Giráldez1, María José Pérez-Palazón2, María José Polo2, and María Patrocinio González-Dugo1
Pedro Jesús Gómez-Giráldez et al.
  • 1IFAPA. Institute of Agricultural and Fisheries Research and Training of Andalusia. Avd. Menéndez Pidal s/n, 14071 Córdoba, Spain.
  • 2Fluvial Dynamics and Hydrology Research Group. Andalusian Institute for Earth System Research. University of Cordoba. Campus Rabanales, Edificio Leonardo Da Vinci, Área de Ingeniería Hidráulica, 14014. Córdoba, Spain.

Mediterranean grasslands are an essential component of rural economy as the primary source of fodder for livestock in extensive areas. These annual grasslands present an escape mechanism to cope with the long summer dry season and the recurrent water scarcity events of the Mediterranean climate, completing their life cycle before serious soil and plant water deficits develop. It results in a close link between grass phenology and soil water dynamics. In this work we have explored this relationship using satellite and ground remote sensing (Sentinel-2 (S2) and a terrestrial digital camera) and ground measurements of hydrological variables.

The terrestrial photography was used as a field validator, grass greenness was assessed using the Green Chromatic Coordinate Index (GCC) and key phenological dates were extracted from the variation of this index during a calibration period (December 2017 to May 2019). The evolution of GCC index was highly correlated with soil moisture (SM) dynamic, which is consistent with the water-limited condition of the ecosystem. Some other variables, including vapor pressure deficit, solar radiation, and minimum, medium and maximum air temperatures were inversely correlated with greenness. Rainfall, although positively correlated, presented the lowest coefficient of all analyzed variables. The capability of SM and S2-NDVI to predict the phenology of the grass canopy was assessed by fitting a double-logistic function to the variables time-series and extracting the phenological parameters start of season (SOS), peak of season (POS) and end of season (EOS) using the 50% amplitude method. The comparison with the terrestrial camera resulted in differences less than 10 days for all phenological dates parameters studied (representing less than 5% error within a grass cycle). The behavior of S2-NDVI and SM relationship during four growing seasons was analyzed. It pointed out the synchronized seasonality shown in this system by the vegetation greenness, measured here by the NDVI, and the soil moisture. The higher agreement was found at the beginning and the end of the dry season, with stage changes estimated first by SM, followed by NDVI with a delay between 3 to 10 days. These results highlight the close relationship between these phenological parameters and the soil moisture dynamic under the study conditions, and the capability of satellite data to track these parameters.

How to cite: Gómez-Giráldez, P. J., Pérez-Palazón, M. J., Polo, M. J., and González-Dugo, M. P.: Exploring the relationship between phenology and hydrology using Sentinel-2 and terrestrial photography in Mediterranean grasslands, EGU General Assembly 2020, Online, 4–8 May 2020, EGU2020-18215,, 2020


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