Tools for Generating Useful Time-series Data from PhenoCam Images


The PhenoCam project ( is tasked with acquiring, processing, and archiving digital repeat photography to be used for scientific studies of vegetation phenological processes. Over the past 5 years the PhenoCam project has collected over 2 million time series images for a total over 700 GB of image data. Several papers have been published describing derived “vegetation indices” (such as green-chromatic-coordinate or gcc) which can be compared to standard measures such as NDVI or EVI. Imagery from our archive is available for download but converting series of images for a particular camera into useful scientific data, while simple in principle, is complicated by a variety of factors. Cameras are often exposed to harsh weather conditions (high wind, rain, ice, snow pile up), which result in images where the field of view (FOV) is partially obscured or completely blocked for periods of time. The FOV can also change for other reasons (mount failures, tower maintenance, etc.) Some of the relatively inexpensive cameras that are being used can also temporarily lose color balance or exposure controls resulting in loss of imagery. All these factors negatively influence the automated analysis of the image time series making this a non-trivial task. Here we discuss the challenges of processing PhenoCam image time-series for vegetation monitoring and the associated data management tasks. We describe our current processing framework and a simple standardized output format for the resulting time-series data. The time-series data in this format will be generated for specific “regions of interest” (ROI’s) for each of the cameras in the PhenoCam network. This standardized output (which will be updated daily) can be considered 'the pulse' of a particular camera and will provide a default phenological dynamic for said camera. The time-series data can also be viewed as a higher level product which can be used to generate “vegetation indices”, like gcc, for phenological studies so that the details of processing the image series can be avoided. Our goal is to provide access to both the original time-series images and the derived ROI time-series data. The software tools for our processing chains and a description of their use will be made available to the wider scientific community.


Earth Sciences, Earth Systems Research Center

Publication Date


Journal Title

Fall Meeting, American Geophysical Union (AGU)


American Geophysical Union Publications

Document Type

Conference Proceeding