Future changes in summer MODIS-based enhanced vegetation index for the South-Central United States

Sharmistha Swain, Sachith Abeysundara, Katharine Hayhoe, Anne M.K. Stoner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


Evaluating the response of vegetation to climate change is relevant to improving the management of both human and natural systems. Here, we quantify the response of the MODIS-based enhanced vegetation index (EVI) to temperature, precipitation, and large-scale natural variability across the South-Central U.S. for summer (JJA) from 2000 to 2013. We find statistically significant relationships between climate and EVI that vary across the region and are distinct for each land cover type: the mean coefficient of determination (R2) between EVI and climate is greatest for pasture (0.61 ± 0.13) and lowest for forest (0.55 ± 0.14). Among the climate variables, three-month cumulative precipitation has the strongest influence on summer vegetation, particularly in semi-arid west Texas and eastern New Mexico. Summer monthly maximum temperature plays an important role in the eastern half of Texas and Oklahoma, moderated by the influence of both Atlantic and Pacific teleconnection indices over inter-annual time scales. Based on these relationships, we train, cross-validate, and, where statistically significant relationships exist, combine this multivariate predictive model with projected changes in teleconnection indices and statistically-downscaled temperature and precipitation from 16 CMIP5 global climate models to quantify future changes in EVI. As global mean temperature increases, projected EVI decreases, indicative of stressed and dry vegetation, particularly for grasslands as compared to other land types, and in Oklahoma and western, central and Gulf Coast Texas for mid- and end-of-century. These trends have potentially important implications for agriculture and the regional economy, as well as for ecosystems and endemic species that depend on vegetation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)64-73
Number of pages10
JournalEcological Informatics
StatePublished - Sep 2017


  • Climate projections
  • Drought
  • Enhanced vegetation index
  • South-Central U.S.


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