Spatial-temporal dynamics of land surface phenology over Africa for the period of 1982–2015

Siqi Shi*, Peiqi Yang*, Christiaan van der Tol

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)
10 Downloads (Pure)


Knowledge of the dynamics of vegetation phenology is essential for the understanding of vegetation-climate interactions. Although the interest in phenology study is growing, vegetation phenology in Africa received far less attention compared to the Northern Hemisphere. Africa straddles the northern and southern hemispheres, and the climate has a clear latitudinal gradient, which facilitates the study of the interaction between phenology and climate. In this study, the latitudinal and longitudinal gradients and temporal trends of start of growing season (SOS), peak of growing season (POS), and end of growing season (EOS) were examined using long-term satellite dataset during 1982–2015. The latitudinal variations in these phenology metrics were larger in the northern than those in the southern Africa, especially from 6°N northwards to 16°N. The latitudinal variations in southern Africa had no clear patterns due to the more complex climate systems. For the longitudinal variation, the temporal trends in POS and EOS exhibited a gradient-decreasing rate in northern Africa. Over the period from 1982 to 2015, the overall trends of the phenology in Africa were ‘later SOS’, ‘later POS’, and ‘later EOS’. The faster rate of delay in EOS than in SOS resulted in a prolonged length of growing season (LOS) with 0.50 days/year on average in northern Africa, while a slower rate of delay in EOS than in SOS resulted in a shorter LOS with −0.12 days/year in southern Africa. The prolonged LOS in northern Africa contributes to the increase in the yearly-averaged Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI) from 1982 to 2000. Nevertheless, the NDVI appeared to have reached saturation around the 2000s, although the LOS was still extending after 2000s. Overall, the findings of this study provide an overall view of the spatial and temporal patterns of land surface phenology in the African continent, and a necessary component for future studies on the response of phenology to climate.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere16413
Number of pages13
Issue number6
Early online date7 Jun 2023
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2023


  • Africa
  • Climate
  • Gradient change
  • Greening
  • Vegetation phenology
  • UT-Gold-D
  • itc-gold


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