Unveiling Nature’s Resilience: Exploring Vegetation Dynamics during the COVID-19 Era in Jharkhand, India, with the Google Earth Engine


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Ahmad T., Gupta S. K., Singh S. K., Meraj G., Kumar P., Kanga S.

Climate, vol.11, no.9, 2023 (ESCI) identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 11 Issue: 9
  • Publication Date: 2023
  • Doi Number: 10.3390/cli11090187
  • Journal Name: Climate
  • Journal Indexes: Emerging Sources Citation Index (ESCI), Scopus
  • Keywords: COVID-19 pandemic, Jharkhand, lockdown, Mann–Kendall, NDVI, vegetation health
  • Çanakkale Onsekiz Mart University Affiliated: Yes

Abstract

The Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic has presented unprecedented challenges to global health and economic stability. Intriguingly, the necessary lockdown measures, while disruptive to human society, inadvertently led to environmental rejuvenation, particularly noticeable in decreased air pollution and improved vegetation health. This study investigates the lockdown’s impact on vegetation health in Jharkhand, India, employing the Google Earth Engine for cloud-based data analysis. MODIS-NDVI data were analyzed using spatio-temporal NDVI analyses and time-series models. These analyses revealed a notable increase in maximum vegetation greenery of 19% from April 2019 to 2020, with subsequent increases of 13% and 3% observed in March and May of the same year, respectively. A longer-term analysis from 2000 to 2020 displayed an overall 16.7% rise in vegetation greenness. While the maximum value remained relatively constant, it demonstrated a slight increment during the dry season. The Landsat data Mann–Kendall trend test reinforced these findings, displaying a significant shift from a negative NDVI trend (1984–2019) to a positive 17.7% trend (1984–2021) in Jharkhand’s north-west region. The precipitation (using NASA power and Merra2 data) and NDVI correlation were also studied during the pre- and lockdown periods. Maximum precipitation (350–400 mm) was observed in June, while July typically experienced around 300 mm precipitation, covering nearly 85% of Jharkhand. Interestingly, August 2020 saw up to 550 mm precipitation, primarily in Jharkhand’s southern region, compared to 400 mm in the same month in 2019. Peak changes in NDVI value during this period ranged between 0.6–0.76 and 0.76–1, observed throughout the state. Although the decrease in air pollution led to improved vegetation health, these benefits began to diminish post-lockdown. This observation underscores the need for immediate attention and intervention from scientists and researchers. Understanding lockdown-induced environmental changes and their impact on vegetation health can facilitate the development of proactive environmental management strategies, paving the way towards a sustainable and resilient future.