Generalized Structure Functions and Multifractal Detrended Fluctuation Analysis Applied to Vegetation Index Time Series: An Arid Rangeland Study

Entropy (Basel). 2021 May 7;23(5):576. doi: 10.3390/e23050576.


Estimates suggest that more than 70% of the world's rangelands are degraded. The Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI) is commonly used by ecologists and agriculturalists to monitor vegetation and contribute to more sustainable rangeland management. This paper aims to explore the scaling character of NDVI and NDVI anomaly (NDVIa) time series by applying three fractal analyses: generalized structure function (GSF), multifractal detrended fluctuation analysis (MF-DFA), and Hurst index (HI). The study was conducted in four study areas in Southeastern Spain. Results suggest a multifractal character influenced by different land uses and spatial diversity. MF-DFA indicated an antipersistent character in study areas, while GSF and HI results indicated a persistent character. Different behaviors of generalized Hurst and scaling exponents were found between herbaceous and tree dominated areas. MF-DFA and surrogate and shuffle series allow us to study multifractal sources, reflecting the importance of long-range correlations in these areas. Two types of long-range correlation appear to be in place due to short-term memory reflecting seasonality and longer-term memory based on a time scale of a year or longer. The comparison of these series also provides us with a differentiating profile to distinguish among our four study areas that can improve land use and risk management in arid rangelands.

Keywords: NDVI; detrended fluctuation analysis; generalized structure function; grassland; multiscaling.