Sensitivity of vegetation indices to atmospheric aerosols: Continental-scale observations in Northern Asia


Satellite observations play an important role in characterization of the interannual variation of vegetation. Here, we report anomalies of two vegetation indices for Northern Asia (40°N–75°N, and 45°E–179°E), using images from the SPOT-4 VEGETATION (VGT) sensor over the period of April 1, 1998 to November 20, 2001. The Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI) and Enhanced Vegetation Index (EVI), which are correlated to a number of vegetation properties (e.g., net primary production, leaf area index), were compared. The results show that there is a large disagreement between NDVI and EVI anomalies in 1998 and 1999 for Northern Asia. The NDVI anomaly in 1998 was largely affected by atmospheric contamination, predominantly aerosols from extensive forest fires in that year. The EVI anomaly in 1998 was less sensitive to residual atmospheric contamination, as it is designed to be, and thus EVI is a useful alternative vegetation index for the large-scale study of vegetation. The EVI anomaly also suggests that potential vegetation productivity in Northern Asia was highest in 1998 but declined substantially in 2001, consistent with precipitation data from 1998–2001.


Earth Sciences, Earth Systems Research Center

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Remote Sensing of Environment



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