Detecting and mapping vegetation distribution on the Antarctic Peninsula from remote sensing data
We present the first regional map of vegetation of anywhere on the Antarctic continent based on remote sensing (RS) data. We have used a normalized difference vegetation index (NDVI) for the examination of Landsat ETM data on the Antarctic Peninsula. The results show that 44.6 km2 (0.086%) of the study area (74,468 km2) is classed with a probability of vegetation of over 50%. The NDVI analysis is ground-truthed against vegetation surveys in Ryder Bay on the Antarctic Peninsula, and the results have been corrected for several factors influencing low NDVI readings in this environment. This methodology has been applied to 13 Landsat scenes covering Graham Land in the Northern part of the Antarctic Peninsula to examine the distribution of vegetation in the region. The Antarctic Peninsula region is important, as it has shown rapid warming of over 3°C during the past 50 years, and predictions indicate accelerated future warming. A baseline survey of the amount and distribution of vegetation is required against which to monitor future change. The results give a comprehensive coverage and allow us to present the first remote sensing-based vegetation map in Antarctica. However, initial results point to the need for further investigation of apparent errors resulting from geology on bare ground.
Authors: Fretwell, Peter T., Convey, Peter, Fleming, Andrew H., Peat, Helen J., Hughes, Kevin A.