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Sensors (Basel). 2019 Aug 23;19(17). pii: E3662. doi: 10.3390/s19173662.

Can We Use Satellite-Based FAPAR to Detect Drought?

Author information

School of Geography and the Environment, University of Oxford, Oxford OX1 3QY, UK.
Department of Geography, University of Munich (LMU), 80333 Munich, Germany.
Institute for Climate and Global Change Research, School of Atmospheric Sciences, Nanjing University, Nanjing 210023, China.
Imaging Group, Mullard Space Sciences Laboratory, University College London, Department of Space and Climate Physics, Holmbury, St Mary RH5 6NT, UK.
FastOpt GmbH, Schanzenstraße 36, D-20357 Hamburg, Germany.
Brockmann Consult GmbH, Max-Plack Str.2, 21502 Geesthacht, Germany.
European Commission, Joint Research Centre, Via Enrico Fermi 2749, 21027 Ispra, Italy.
Department of Geography, University of Munich (LMU), 80333 Munich, Germany.
Key Laboratory of Water Cycle and Related Land Surface Processes, Institute of Geographic Sciences and Natural Resources Research, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100101, China.
Environmental Change Institute, University of Oxford, Oxford OX1 3QY, UK.
Department of Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences & Institute of Atmospheric Sciences, Fudan University, Shanghai 200438, China.
Department of Physical Geography and Ecosystem Science, Lund University, S-223 62 Lund, Sweden.
Lancaster Environment Centre, Lancaster University, Lancaster LA1 4YQ, UK.
School of Geography and the Environment, University of Oxford, Oxford OX1 3QY, UK.


Drought in Australia has widespread impacts on agriculture and ecosystems. Satellite-based Fraction of Absorbed Photosynthetically Active Radiation (FAPAR) has great potential to monitor and assess drought impacts on vegetation greenness and health. Various FAPAR products based on satellite observations have been generated and made available to the public. However, differences remain among these datasets due to different retrieval methodologies and assumptions. The Quality Assurance for Essential Climate Variables (QA4ECV) project recently developed a quality assurance framework to provide understandable and traceable quality information for Essential Climate Variables (ECVs). The QA4ECV FAPAR is one of these ECVs. The aim of this study is to investigate the capability of QA4ECV FAPAR for drought monitoring in Australia. Through spatial and temporal comparison and correlation analysis with widely used Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS), Satellite Pour l'Observation de la Terre (SPOT)/PROBA-V FAPAR generated by Copernicus Global Land Service (CGLS), and the Standardized Precipitation Evapotranspiration Index (SPEI) drought index, as well as the European Space Agency's Climate Change Initiative (ESA CCI) soil moisture, the study shows that the QA4ECV FAPAR can support agricultural drought monitoring and assessment in Australia. The traceable and reliable uncertainties associated with the QA4ECV FAPAR provide valuable information for applications that use the QA4ECV FAPAR dataset in the future.


Australia; CGLS; FAPAR; MODIS; QA4ECV; drought

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