Characterizing spatiotemporal patterns of crop phenology across North America during 2000–2016 using satellite imagery and agricultural survey data

Yanjun Yang, Wei Ren, Bo Tao, Lei Ji, Liang Liang, Alex C. Ruane, Joshua B. Fisher, Jiangui Liu, Michael Sama, Zhe Li, Qingjiu Tian

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

29 Scopus citations


Crop phenology represents an integrative indicator of climate change and plays a vital role in terrestrial carbon dynamics and sustainable agricultural development. However, spatiotemporal variations of crop phenology remain unclear at large scales. This knowledge gap has hindered our ability to realistically quantify the biogeochemical dynamics in agroecosystems, predict future climate, and make informed decisions for climate change mitigation and adaptation. In this study, we improved an EVI-curve-based approach and used it to detect spatiotemporal patterns in cropping intensity and five major phenological stages over North America during 2000–2016 using vegetation index in combination with agricultural survey data and other ancillary maps. Our predicted crop phenological stages showed strong linear relationships with the survey-based datasets, with R2, RMSEs, and MAEs in the ranges of 0.35 –0.99, three to ten days, and two to eight days, respectively. During the study period, the planting dates were advanced by 0.60 days/year (p < 0.01), and harvesting dates were delayed by 0.78 days/year (p < 0.01) over North America. A minimum temperature increase by 1 °C caused a 4.26-day planting advance (r = −0.50, p < 0. 01) or a 0.66-day harvest delay (r = 0.10, p < 0.01). While, a higher maximum temperature resulted in a planting advance by 4.48 days/°C (r = −0.62, p < 0.01) or a harvest advance by 2.22 days/°C (r = −0.40, p < 0.01). Our analysis illustrated evident spatiotemporal variations in crop phenology in response to climate change and management practices. The derived crop phenological datasets and cropping intensity maps can be used in regional climate assessments and in developing adaptation strategies.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)156-173
Number of pages18
JournalISPRS Journal of Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing
StatePublished - Dec 2020

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020


  • Climate change
  • Crop phenology
  • Cropping intensity
  • EVI-curve-based approach
  • North America
  • Spatiotemporal trend analysis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Atomic and Molecular Physics, and Optics
  • Engineering (miscellaneous)
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Computers in Earth Sciences


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