NDVI: Normalized-difference-vegetation-index: NOAA AVHRR

Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI) values are derived from surface reflectance data acquired by the Advanced Very High Resolution Radiometer (AVHRR) sensor. By applying knowledge gathered over time about instrument performance and sensor characteristics, the data are reprocessed to create consistent long-term records, allowing insight into changes in the Earth’s environmental parameters. Specifically, the NDVI data provide the global change and resource management communities with vegetation data for historical trend analysis and vegetation monitoring studies for land surfaces around the globe.

The data are composites of daily values each half-month. This very high resolution (0.05 degrees) dataset is a NOAA Climate Data Record (CDR). As with all operational CDRs, the NDVI CDR meets rigorous quality standards recommended by the National Academy of Sciences and other expert organizations to help ensure consistent and reliable products.

The USGS Remote sensing phenology states: "NDVI values range from +1.0 to -1.0. Areas of barren rock, sand, or snow usually show very low NDVI values (for example, 0.1 or less). Sparse vegetation such as shrubs and grasslands or senescing crops may result in moderate NDVI values (approximately 0.2 to 0.5). High NDVI values (approximately 0.6 to 0.9) correspond to dense vegetation such as that found in temperate and tropical forests or crops at their peak growth stage."

Key Strengths:

  • As a Climate Data Record (CDR), the data are very high quality
  • Very high resolution (0.05 degrees)
  • CF conforming netCDF

Key Limitations:

  • Each file contains a geographical segment. Hence, users must import multiple files to construct a cohesive global map.

Years of Record

1981/06 to 2018/03
temporal metadataID:





Spatial Resolution

0.05 x 0.05 (3600x7200)

Vertical Levels

Earth system components and main variables

Suggested Data Citation

Eric Vermote, Chris Justice, Ivan Csiszar, Jeff Eidenshink, Ranga Myneni, Frederic Baret, Ed Masuoka, Robert Wolfe, Martin Claverie and NOAA CDR Program (2014): NOAA Climate Data Record (CDR) of Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI), Version 4. [indicate subset used]. NOAA National Centers for Environmental Information. doi:10.7289/V5PZ56R6

Data Access: Please Cite data sources, following the data providers' instructions.

Key Figures

Click the thumbnails to view larger sizes



NDVI; CDR; June 25, 1981 NDVI; CDR; June 25, 1981
NDVI; CDR; June 26, 1981 NDVI; CDR; June 26, 1981
NDVI; CDR; June 27, 1981 NDVI; CDR; June 27, 1981
NDVI; CDR; June 28, 1981 NDVI; CDR; June 28, 1981

Cite this page

National Center for Atmospheric Research Staff (Eds). Last modified 14 Mar 2018. "The Climate Data Guide: NDVI: Normalized-difference-vegetation-index: NOAA AVHRR." Retrieved from https://climatedataguide.ucar.edu/climate-data/ndvi-normalized-difference-vegetation-index-noaa-avhrr.

Acknowledgement of any material taken from this page is appreciated. On behalf of experts who have contributed data, advice, and/or figures, please cite their work as well.