Equivalent water thickness in savanna ecosystems: MODIS estimates based on ground and EO-1 Hyperion data

Laerte Guimaraes Ferreira, Gregory P. Asner, David E. Knapp, Eric A. Davidson, Michael Coe, Mercedesm C. Bustamante, Eddie Lenza de Oliveira

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Scopus citations


The Brazilian savanna biome, known locally as the Cerrado, with an area of about 2 million km2 and marked by a conspicuous seasonality, comprises a vertically structured mosaic of ecosystem types, ranging from grassland to tropical dry forests. The Cerrado is a major agricultural frontier in Brazil, with nearly 50% of its original vegetative cover already converted to pastures and crop fields. Such large-scale conversion has severely affected regional runoff, river discharge and the atmosphere water transfer from soil reservoirs through vegetation. In this study, we used multitemporal Earth Observing-1 (EO-1) Hyperion hyperspectral imagery to derive canopy water content (validated by ground truth measurements), whose estimates were regionally extrapolated, over the entire Cerrado biome, based on the normalized difference vegetation index (NDVI) Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) product MOD13Q1. MODIS-based canopy-level equivalent water thickness (EWTC) values were significantly distinct for each of the major anthropogenic and natural Cerrado land-cover types, at both the beginning and end of the dry season, and were correlated with land surface temperatures (LSTs). This method provides reasonable estimates of precipitable canopy water. Potential applications of EWTC estimates based on moderate resolution imagery include early fire warnings and validation and constraining of regional hydrological models.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)7423-7440
Number of pages18
JournalInternational Journal of Remote Sensing
Issue number22
StatePublished - Nov 2011
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Earth and Planetary Sciences(all)


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