Matching high resolution satellite data and flux tower footprints improves their agreement in photosynthesis estimates

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Juwon Kong , Youngryel Ryu , Jiangong Liu, Benjamin Dechant , Camilo Rey-Sanchez, Robert Shortt, Daphne Szutu, Joe Verfaillie, Rasmus Houborg, Dennis Baldocchi


Mapping canopy photosynthesis in both high spatial and temporal resolution is essential for carbon cycle monitoring in heterogeneous areas. However, well established satellites in sun-synchronous orbits such as Sentinel-2, Landsat and MODIS can only provide either high spatial or high temporal resolution but not both. Recently established CubeSat satellite constellations have created an opportunity to overcome this resolution trade-off. In particular, Planet Fusion allows full utilization of the CubeSat data resolution and coverage while maintaining high radiometric quality. In this study, we used the Planet Fusion surface reflectance product to calculate daily, 3-m resolution, gap-free maps of the near-infrared radiation reflected from vegetation (NIRvP). We then evaluated the performance of these NIRvP maps for estimating canopy photosynthesis by comparing with data from a flux tower network in Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, California, USA. Overall, NIRvP maps captured temporal variations in canopy photosynthesis of individual sites, despite changes in water extent in the wetlands and frequent mowing in the crop fields. When combining data from all sites, however, we found that robust agreement between NIRvP maps and canopy photosynthesis could only be achieved when matching NIRvP maps to the flux tower footprints. In this case of matched footprints, NIRvP maps showed considerably better performance than in situ NIRvP in estimating canopy photosynthesis both for daily sum and data around the time of satellite overpass (R 2 = 0.78 vs. 0.60, for maps vs. in situ for the satellite overpass time case). This difference in performance was mostly due to the higher degree of consistency in slopes of NIRvP -canopy photosynthesis relationships across the study sites for flux tower footprint-matched maps. Our results show the importance of matching satellite observations to the flux tower footprint and demonstrate the potential of CubeSat constellation imagery to monitor canopy photosynthesis remotely at high spatio-temporal resolution.



Agriculture, Environmental Monitoring


Near-infrared radiation reflected from vegetation, NIRvP, photosynthesis, Eddy covariance, Footprint, CubeSat


Published: 2022-01-10 07:53

Last Updated: 2022-02-23 18:56

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CC BY Attribution 4.0 International

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