Skip to main content
U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government

Near-surface remote sensing of spatial and temporal variation in canopy phenology


Andrew D. Richardson
Bobby H. Braswell
Julian P. Jenkins
Scott V. Ollinger



Publication type:

Scientific Journal (JRNL)

Primary Station(s):

Northern Research Station


Ecological Applications: 19(6): 1417-1428.


There is a need to document how plant phenology is responding to global change factors, particularly warming trends. "Near-surface" remote sensing, using radiometric instruments or imaging sensors, has great potential to improve phenological monitoring because automated observations can be made at high temporal frequency. Here we build on previous work and show how inexpensive, networked digital cameras ("webcams") can be used to document spatial and temporal variation in the spring and autumn phenology of forest canopies. We use two years of imagery from a deciduous, northern hardwood site, and one year of imagery from a coniferous, boreal transition site. A quantitative signal is obtained by splitting images into separate red, green, and blue color channels and calculating the relative brightness of each channel for "regions of interest" within each image.


Richardson, Andrew D.; Braswell, Bobby H.; Hollinger, David Y.; Jenkins, Julian P.; Ollinger, Scott V. 2009. Near-surface remote sensing of spatial and temporal variation in canopy phenology. Ecological Applications: 19(6): 1417-1428.

Publication Notes

  • We recommend that you also print this page and attach it to the printout of the article, to retain the full citation information.
  • This article was written and prepared by U.S. Government employees on official time, and is therefore in the public domain.