Land surface phenology is a crucial link between climate and natural resources. The Department of Interior (DOI) North Central Climate Science Center (NC CSC) has partnered with the AmericaView program to establish phenology cameras, or “PhenoCams,” at strategic locations throughout the north-central U.S. These fixed cameras transmit an image of the landscape to an online server every 30 minutes during daylight hours. Both raw imagery as well as derived metrics of vegetation greenness are freely available through the National PhenoCam Network website. The international community has agreed upon the use of coupled PhenoCam sites and in situ observations as the primary validation for land surface phenology products; as such, PhenoCam activity is occurring in coordination with the Committee on Earth Observation Satellites Land Product Validation subgroup (CEOS LPV) and the USA National Phenology Network. The NC CSC has developed and documented protocols for comparing PhenoCam and remotely sensed data pixel-by-pixel. This comparison allows the hyper-temporal resolution (every ½ hour) PhenoCam imagery to provide a more detailed and localized interpretation of the changing vegetation and habitat dynamics seen on less frequent satellite observations, such as those from Landsat every 8 days.
A stunning view of the Grand Tetons as seen from the National Elk Refuge phenocam. The image was acquired on May 28, 2016, at 11:00 am local time. The lush green vegetation in the image is being compared to the vegetation indices observed by MODIS and Landsat 7 and 8 as well as the antecedent climate conditions.