Our current understanding of semiarid ecosystems is that they tend to display higher vegetation greenness on polar-facing slopes (PFS) than on equatorial-facing slopes (EFS). However, recent studies have argued that higher vegetation greenness can occur on EFS during part of the year. To assess whether this seasonal reversal of aspect-driven vegetation is a common occurrence, we conducted a global-scale analysis of vegetation greenness on a monthly time scale over an 18-year period (2000–2017). We examined the influence of climate seasonality on the normalized difference vegetation index (NDVI) values of PFS and EFS at 60 different catchments with aspect-controlled vegetation located across all continents except Antarctica. Our results show that an overwhelming majority of sites (70%) display seasonal reversal, associated with transitions from water-limited to energy-limited conditions during wet winters. These findings highlight the need to consider seasonal variations of aspect-driven vegetation patterns in ecohydrology, geomorphology, and Earth system models.
Scopus Subject Areas
- Earth and Planetary Sciences(all)
- hillslope aspect
- remote sensing
- vegetation greenness