Global analysis of bioclimatic controls on ecosystem productivity using satellite observations of solar-induced chlorophyll fluorescence

Nima Madani, John S. Kimball, Lucas A. Jones, Nicholas C. Parazoo, Kaiyu Guan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

59 Scopus citations


Ecosystemproductivitymodels rely on regional climatic information to estimate temperature and moisture constraints influencing plant growth. However, the productivity response to these environmental factors is uncertain at the global scale and has largely been defined using limited observations from sparse monitoring sites, including carbon flux towers. Recent studies have shown that satellite observations of Solar-Induced chlorophyll Fluorescence (SIF) are highly correlated with ecosystem Gross Primary Productivity (GPP). Here, we use a relatively long-term global SIF observational record fromthe Global OzoneMonitoring Experiment-2 (GOME-2) sensors to investigate the relationships between SIF, used as a proxy for GPP, and selected bio-climatic factors constraining plant growth at the global scale. We compared the satellite SIF retrievals with collocated GPP observations from a global network of tower carbon flux monitoring sites and surface meteorological data from model reanalysis, including soil moisture, Vapor Pressure Deficit (VPD), and minimum daily air temperature (Tmin). We found strong correspondence (R2 > 80%) between SIF and GPP monthly climatologies for tower sites characterized by mixed, deciduous broadleaf, evergreen needleleaf forests, and croplands. For other land cover types including savanna, shrubland, and evergreen broadleaf forest, SIF showed significant but higher variability in correlations between sites. In order to analyze temperature and moisture related effects on ecosystem productivity, we divided SIF by photosynthetically active radiation (SIFp) and examined partial correlations between SIFp and the climatic factors across a global range of flux tower sites, and over broader regional and global extents. We found that productivity in arid ecosystems is more strongly controlled by soil water content to an extent that soil moisture explains a higher proportion of the seasonal cycle in productivity than VPD. At the global scale, ecosystem productivity is affected by joint climatic constraint factors so that VPD, Tmin, and soil moisture were significant (p < 0.05) controls over 60, 59, and 35 percent of the global domain, respectively. Our study identifies and confirms dominant climate control factors influencing productivity at the global scale indicated from satellite SIF observations. The results are generally consistent with climate response characteristics indicated from sparse global tower observations, while providing more extensive coverage for verifying and refining global carbon and climate model assumptions and predictions.

Original languageEnglish
Article number530
JournalRemote Sensing
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 1 2017


  • Ecosystem productivity
  • GPP
  • Phenology
  • SIF
  • SMAP-L4C


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