Scaling Gross Primary Production (GPP) over boreal and deciduous forest landscapes in support of MODIS GPP product validation

David P. Turner, William D. Ritts, Warren B. Cohen, Stith T. Gower, Maosheng Zhao, Steve W. Running, Steven C. Wofsy, Shawn Urbanski, Allison L. Dunn, J. W. Munger

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284 Scopus citations


The Moderate Resolution Imaging Radiometer (MODIS) is the primary instrument in the NASA Earth Observing System for monitoring the seasonality of global terrestrial vegetation. Estimates of 8-day mean daily gross primary production (GPP) at the 1 km spatial resolution are now operationally produced by the MODIS Land Science Team for the global terrestrial surface using a production efficiency approach. In this study, the 2001 MODIS GPP product was compared with scaled GPP estimates (25 km2) based on ground measurements at two forested sites. The ground-based GPP scaling approach relied on a carbon cycle process model run in a spatially distributed mode. Land cover classification and maximum annual leaf area index, as derived from Landsat ETM+ imagery, were used in model initiation. The model was driven by daily meteorological observations from an eddy covariance flux tower situated at the center of each site. Model simulated GPPs were corroborated with daily GPP estimates from the flux tower. At the hardwood forest site, the MODIS GPP phenology started earlier than was indicated by the scaled GPP, and the summertime GPP from MODIS was generally lower than the scaled GPP values. The fall-off in production at the end of the growing season was similar to the validation data. At the boreal forest site, the GPP phenologies generally agreed because both responded to the strong signal associated with minimum temperature. The midsummer MODIS GPP there was generally higher than the ground-based GPP. The differences between the MODIS GPP products and the ground-based GPPs were driven by differences in the timing of FPAR and the magnitude of light use efficiency as well as by differences in other inputs to the MODIS GPP algorithm - daily incident PAR, minimum temperature, and vapor pressure deficit. Ground-based scaling of GPP has the potential to improve the parameterization of light use efficiency in satellite-based GPP monitoring algorithms.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)256-270
Number of pages15
JournalRemote Sensing of Environment
Issue number3
StatePublished - Dec 15 2003


  • Biome-BGC
  • Boreal forest
  • Deciduous forest
  • Eddy covariance
  • FPAR
  • Gross primary production
  • Light use efficiency
  • Validation


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