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

Greening dynamics and shrubland extent from remote sensing data using NDVI and NARI Indices: case study of the George River basin (Nunavik, Canada).

Dr. Jean-Pierre Dedieu1, Johann Housset2, Arthur Bayle3, Esther Lévesque4, and José Gérin-Lajoie4
Dr. Jean-Pierre Dedieu et al.
  • 1IGE-CNRS / Université de Grenoble Alpes, GRENOBLE, France (
  • 2ALCINA, Montpellier, France
  • 3LECA-CNRS / Université de Grenoble-Alpes, GRENOBLE, France
  • 4Dépt. des sciences de l’environnement and Centre d’Etudes Nordiques, Université du Québec à Trois-Rivières, Qc, Canada

Arctic greening trends are well documented at various scales (Fraser et al., 2011; Tremblay et al., 2012; Bjorkman et al., 2018). In this context, Remote Sensing offers a unique tool for estimating the high latitude vegetation evolution in the relatively long-term, i.e. the Landsat archive since the 80’s. Spectral indices derived from visible and infra-red wavelengths provide relations that can be used to quantify vegetation dynamics, we will combine the well-used Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI) and the recent Normalized Anthocyanins Reflectance Index (Bayle et al., 2019), using red-edge spectral band (690 to 710 µm) from Sentinel-2, to better quantify vegetation change over 30 years.

The application area is located in Nunavik, northern Québec (Canada), and concerns the George River catchment (565 km length, 41 700 km²). This large river basin covers vegetation from boreal forest (South) to arctic tundra (North). Local study sites stem from the Kangiqsualujjuaq village (Ungava Bay) to 300 km south, along the main river and its tributaries.

NDVI: surface reflectance Landsat bands were gathered for three years 1985, 2000 and 2015 (respectively Landsat missions 5, 7 and 8). For each period of interest, the best August cloud-free scenes were chosen and merged to create a cloud free mosaic covering the study area. NDVI bands were calculated and compared after cloud and water masking. NDVI trends were compared between the main vegetation types following the newly released “Ecological mapping of the vegetation of northern Quebec” (MRNFP, 2018). Centroid of polygons within the main vegetation types of the map were used to classify the NDVI results and assess changes per type. Results of NDVI time evolution revealed a clear greening trend at the river basin scale. Although greening was observed across the whole latitudinal gradient, the relative NDVI increase was stronger on the northern half of the study area, mostly covered with tundra and subarctic vegetation. Both shrublands and sparsely vegetated zones dominated by rocks had the greatest relative NDVI increase. This is likely caused by improved growth of established prostrate vegetation over the past 30 years in response to increasing temperatures trend.

NARI: greening trends in the Eastern Canadian Arctic have been partly attributed to increases in shrub cover (Myers-smith et al., 2011) and specifically to Betula glandulosa (e.g. Tremblay et al., 2012). Such land cover changes alter species competition (Shevtosa et al., 1997) and soil thermal regime (Domine et al., 2015; Paradis et al., 2016). Transformations in biotic and abiotic conditions reduce the fruit productivity of low stature shrubs of the Ericaceae family (Lussier 2017), which in turn is expected to impact animal (Prescott and Richard 2013) and human populations (Lévesque et al., 2013; Boulanger-Lapointe et al., 2019). An innovative method has been developed in the French Alps to detect the late-fall reddening of shrub leaves and map shrublands (Bayle et al., 2019). Quantifying NARI dynamics related to NDVI dynamics could allow to gain a better understanding of species composition change related to current landscape transformation.

How to cite: Dedieu, Dr. J.-P., Housset, J., Bayle, A., Lévesque, E., and Gérin-Lajoie, J.: Greening dynamics and shrubland extent from remote sensing data using NDVI and NARI Indices: case study of the George River basin (Nunavik, Canada)., EGU General Assembly 2020, Online, 4–8 May 2020, EGU2020-3861,, 2020


Display file

Comments on the display

AC: Author Comment | CC: Community Comment | Report abuse

displays version 1 – uploaded on 28 Apr 2020, no comments