Estimation of stand productivity from multi-angular optical remote sensing

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Courtesy of PP Systems

Global modeling of gross primary production (GPP) is a critical component of climate change research. On local scales, GPP can be assessed from measuring CO2 exchange above the plant canopy using tower-based eddy covariance (EC) systems. The limited footprint inherent to this method however, restricts observations to relatively few discrete areas making continuous predictions of global CO2 fluxes difficult. Recently, the advent of high resolution optical remote sensing devices has offered new possibilities to address some of the scaling issues related to GPP using remote sensing.

Detection of GPP from remote sensing is based on the awareness that photosynthesis is related to the biochemical composition of plant foliage. This biochemical composition is being expressed in leaf spectral properties and can be detected from high resolution optical remote sensing instrumentation. One key component for inferring GPP spectrally is the efficiency (ε) with which plants can use absorbed photosynthetically active radiation to produce biomass.

While recent years have seen progress in measuring ε using the photochemical reflectance index (PRI), little is known about the temporal and spatial requirements for up-scaling these findings continuously throughout the landscape. Satellite observations of canopy reflectance are subject to view and illumination effects which can confound the desired PRI signal. Further uncertainties include dependencies of PRI on canopy structure, understorey, species composition and leaf pigment concentration.

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