Assessing interannual variation in MODIS-based estimates of gross primary production

David P. Turner, William David Ritts, Maosheng Zhao, Shirley A. Kurc, Allison L. Dunn, Steven C. Wofsy, Eric E. Small, Steven W. Running

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89 Scopus citations


Global estimates of terrestrial gross primary production (GPP) are now operationally produced from Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectrometer (MODIS) imagery at the 1-km spatial resolution and eight-day temporal resolution. In this study, MODIS GPP products were compared with ground-based GPP estimates over multiple years at three sites-a boreal conifer forest, a temperate deciduous forest, and a desert grassland. The ground-based estimates relied on measurements at eddy covariance flux towers, fine resolution remote sensing, and modeling. The MODIS GPP showed seasonal variation that was generally consistent with the in situ observations. The sign and magnitude of year-to-year variation in the MODIS products agreed with that of the ground observations at two of the three sites. Examination of the inputs to the MODIS GPP algorithm - notably the fraction of photosynthetically active radiation (FPAR) that is absorbed by the canopy), minimum temperature scalar, and vapor pressure deficit scalar-provided explanations for cases of disagreement between the MODIS and ground-based GPP estimates. Continued evaluation of interannual variation in MODIS products and related climate variables will aid in assessing potential biospheric feedbacks to climate change.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1645289
Pages (from-to)1899-1907
Number of pages9
JournalIEEE Transactions on Geoscience and Remote Sensing
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 2006


  • Fraction of photosynthetically active radiation (FPAR)
  • Global ecology
  • Gross primary production (GPP)
  • Interannual variation
  • Modeling
  • Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectrometer (MODIS)
  • Remote sensing


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