Summary Results from:

Continuous observation of tree leaf area index at ecosystem scale using upward-pointing digital cameras
As they relate to the validation of MOD15

Authors: Youngryel Ryu, Joseph Verfaillie, Craig Macfarlane, Hideki Kobayashi, Oliver Sonnentag, Rodrigo Vargas, Siyan Ma, Dennis D. Baldocchi

Source: Remote Sensing of Environment 126 (2012) 116125; doi:10.1016/j.rse.2012.08.027

Link to: Access Publication


Understanding the dynamics of leaf area index (LAI) at ecosystem scale is critical for evaluating and modeling the response of vegetation to environmental variability and change. We present an approach for quantifying daily ecosystem LAI that integrates automatic acquisition of a small number of reference photos, viewed to- wards the zenith, and a larger number of photos covering a spatially extensive area that were manually ac- quired during periodic field trips. We present an image archive spanning three years for an oak-savanna ecosystem in California to identify the timing of phenological and disturbance events, and to quantify the sea- sonal to interannual variability of tree LAI at ecosystem scale. The digital camera-derived LAI, corrected for clumping effects, agreed well (r2=0.94, root mean square error=0.05) with independent estimates of LAI from litterfall traps and the LAI-2000 Plant Canopy Analyzer. Using the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) LAI product, which combined grass and tree LAI, we obtained realistic seasonal patterns of ecosystem LAI that corresponded with tree LAI from the digital cameras for the period when grass was dead. The digital camera method is an easy and inexpensive way to monitor LAI at ecosystem scale. This method can be used for testing and improving phenology models, evaluating remote-sensing-derived LAI products, and quantifying forest structures in rapidly changing environments.