Indicators of vegetation productivity under a changing climate in British Columbia, Canada

Keith R. Holmes, Nicholas C. Coops, Trisalyn A. Nelson, Fabio M.A. Fontana, Michael A. Wulder

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


Understanding the relationship between vegetation and climate is essential for predicting the impact of climate change on broad-scale landscape processes. Utilizing vegetation indicators derived from remotely sensed imagery, we present an approach to forecast shifts in the future distribution of vegetation. Remotely sensed metrics representing cumulative greenness, seasonality, and minimum cover have successfully been linked to species distributions over broad spatial scales. In this paper we developed models between a historical time series of Advanced Very High Resolution Radiometer (AVHRR) satellite imagery from 1987 to 2007at 1km spatial resolution with corresponding climate data using regression tree modeling approaches. We then applied these models to three climate change scenarios produced by the Canadian Centre for Climate Modeling and Analysis (CCCma) to predict and map productivity indices in 2065. Our results indicated that warming may lead to increased cumulative greenness in northern British Columbia and seasonality in vegetation is expected to decrease for higher elevations, while levels of minimum cover increase. The Coast Mountains of the Pacific Maritime region and high elevation edge habitats across British Columbia were forecasted to experience the greatest amount of change. Our approach provides resource managers with information to mitigate and adapt to future habitat dynamics. Forecasting vegetation productivity levels presents a novel approach for understanding the future implications of climate change on broad scale spatial patterns of vegetation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)135-144
Number of pages10
JournalApplied Geography
StatePublished - Jan 1 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • British Columbia
  • Climate change
  • Dynamic habitat index
  • Forecast
  • Productivity
  • Remote sensing

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Forestry
  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • General Environmental Science
  • Tourism, Leisure and Hospitality Management


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