Natural Resources, School of


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Remote Sensing of Environment 153 (2014) 1–6; doi: 10.1016/j.rse.2014.07.012


This article is a U.S. government work, and is not subject to copyright in the United States.


Photosynthesis (PSN) is a pigment level process in which antenna pigments (predominately chlorophylls) in chloroplasts absorb photosynthetically active radiation (PAR) for the photochemical process. PAR absorbed by foliar non-photosynthetic components is not used for PSN. The fraction of PAR absorbed (fAPAR) by a canopy/vegetation (i.e., fAPARcanopy) derived from the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) images, referred to as MOD15A2 FPAR, has been used to compute absorbed PAR (APAR) for PSN (APARPSN) which is utilized to produce the standard MODIS gross primary production (GPP) product, referred to as MOD17A2 GPP. In this study, the fraction of PAR absorbed by chlorophyll throughout the canopy (fAPARchl) was retrieved from MODIS images for three AmeriFlux crop fields in Nebraska. There are few studies in the literature that compare the performance of MOD15A2 FPAR versus fAPARchlin GPP estimation. In our studyMOD15A2 FPAR and the retrieved fAPARchlwere compared with field fAPARcanopyand the fraction of PAR absorbed by green leaves of the vegetation (fAPARgreen). MOD15A2 FPAR overestimated field fAPARcanopyin spring and in fall, and underestimated field fAPARcanopyin midsummer whereas fAPARchlcorrectly captured the seasonal phenology. The retrieved fAPARchlagreed well with field fAPARgreenat early crop growth stage in June, and was less than field fAPARgreenin late July, August and September. GPP estimates with fAPARchland with MOD15A2 FPAR were compared to tower flux GPP. GPP simulated with fAPARchl was corroboratedwith tower flux GPP. Improvements in crop GPP estimation were achieved by replacing MOD15A2 FPAR with fAPARchlwhich also reduced uncertainties of crop GPP estimates by 1.12–2.37 g C m−2 d−1.