An Inherent Limitation of Solar-Induced Chlorophyll Fluorescence Retrieval at the O2-A Absorption Feature in High-Altitude Areas

Ruyin Cao, Xuehong Chen, Jin Chen, Wei Yang
State Key Laboratory of Earth Surface Processes and Resource Ecology, Beijing Normal University, Beijing 100875, China
Abstract: The Fraunhofer line discriminator (FLD) principle applied on the atmospheric oxygen absorption feature around 761 nm (O2-A band) has been widely used to retrieve solar-induced chlorophyll fluorescence (Fs) from remotely sensed data. In this letter, however, we address a violation of the basic assumption caused by O2 absorption feature changes, and we evaluate the impact of diminishing O2 absorption with the increase in ground altitude on Fs retrieval accuracy. The Fs retrieval accuracy substantially decreases in higher ground altitude areas for the standard FLD and three-band FLD methods, in which relative estimation errors increase approximately 70%–80% and 10%–16%, respectively, with an increase in ground altitude from 0.01 to 4.5 km. However, this increasing trend in Fs retrieval error does not occur with the use of the improved FLD (iFLD) method, which exhibits smaller than 5% of changes in relative estimation errors. Analytical analyses reveal the causes of the changes in Fs retrieval accuracy by the three methods. Based on these findings, the iFLD method is recommended to be used in cross-altitude studies or for Fs estimation in higher ground altitude areas under conditions of low radiometric noise, although its high sensitivity to noise should be taken into account. The investigations in this letter further indicate that the impact of ground altitude should be included in the uncertainty budgets of Fs retrievals and should be considered in the interpretation of Fs signals at the O2-A absorption feature.
Keywords: Chlorophyll fluorescence; FluorMOD; Fraunhofer line discriminator (FLD); ground altitude; O2-A band; photosynthesis.
Published in IEEE Geoscience and Remote Sensing Letters. 2013, DOI: 10.1109/LGRS.2013.2262106.