Vegetation greening in Spain detected from long term data (1981–2015)

This study describes a newly developed high-resolution (1.1 km) Normalized Difference Vegetation Index dataset for the peninsular Spain and the Balearic Islands (Sp_1km_NDVI). This dataset is developed based on National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration–Advanced Very High Resolution Radiometer (NOAA–AVHRR) afternoon images, spanning the past three decades (1981–2015). After a careful pre-processing procedure, including calibration with post-launch calibration coefficients, geometric and topographic corrections, cloud removal, temporal filtering, and bi-weekly composites by maximum NDVI-value, we assessed changes in vegetation greening over the study domain using Mann-Kendall and Theil-Sen statistics. Our trend results were compared with those derived from some widely recognized global NDVI datasets [e.g. the Global Inventory Modelling and Mapping Studies 3rd generation (GIMMS3g), Smoothed NDVI (SMN) and Moderate-Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS)]. Results demonstrate that there is a good agreement between the annual trends based on Sp_1km_NDVI product and other datasets. Nonetheless, we found some differences in the spatial patterns of the NDVI trends at the seasonal scale. Overall, in comparison to the available global NDVI datasets, Sp_1km_NDVI allows for characterizing changes in vegetation greening at a more-detailed spatial and temporal scale. In specific, our dataset provides relatively long-term corrected satellite time series (>30 years), which are crucial to understand the response of vegetation to climate change and human-induced activities. Also, given the complex spatial structure of NDVI changes over the study domain, particularly due to the rapid land intensification processes, the spatial resolution (1.1 km) of our dataset can provide detailed spatial information on the inter-annual variability of vegetation greening in this Mediterranean region and assess its links to climate change and variability.