Sun-induced fluorescence and near-infrared reflectance of vegetation track the seasonal dynamics of gross primary production over Africa

Anteneh Getachew Mengistu, Gizaw Mengistu Tsidu, Gerbrand Koren, Maurits L. Kooreman, K. Folkert Boersma, Torbern Tagesson, Jonas Ardö, Yann Nouvellon, Wouter Peters

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The carbon cycle of tropical terrestrial vegetation plays a vital role in the storage and exchange of atmospheric CO<span classCombining double low line"inline-formula">2</span>. But large uncertainties surround the impacts of land-use change emissions, climate warming, the frequency of droughts, and CO<span classCombining double low line"inline-formula">2</span> fertilization. This culminates in poorly quantified carbon stocks and carbon fluxes even for the major ecosystems of Africa (savannas and tropical evergreen forests). Contributors to this uncertainty are the sparsity of (micro-)meteorological observations across Africa's vast land area, a lack of sufficient ground-based observation networks and validation data for CO<span classCombining double low line"inline-formula">2</span>, and incomplete representation of important processes in numerical models. In this study, we therefore turn to two remotely sensed vegetation products that have been shown to correlate highly with gross primary production (GPP): sun-induced fluorescence (SIF) and near-infrared reflectance of vegetation (NIRv). The former is available from an updated product that we recently published (Sun-Induced Fluorescence of Terrestrial Ecosystems Retrieval-SIFTER v2), which specifically improves retrievals in tropical environments. A comparison against flux tower observations of daytime-partitioned net ecosystem exchange from six major biomes in Africa shows that SIF and NIRv reproduce the seasonal patterns of GPP well, resulting in correlation coefficients of <span classCombining double low line"inline-formula"0.9</span> (<span classCombining double low line"inline-formula">NCombining double low line12</span> months, four sites) over savannas in the Northern and Southern hemispheres. These coefficients are slightly higher than for the widely used Max Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry (MPI-BGC) GPP products and enhanced vegetation index (EVI). Similarly to SIF signals in the neighboring Amazon, peak productivity occurs in the wet season coinciding with peak soil moisture and is followed by an initial decline during the early dry season, which reverses when light availability peaks. This suggests similar leaf dynamics are at play. Spatially, SIF and NIRv show a strong linear relation (<span classCombining double low line"inline-formula">R</i0.9</span>; <span classCombining double low line"inline-formula">N≥250</span> pixels) with multi-year MPI-BGC GPP even within single biomes. Both MPI-BGC GPP and the EVI show saturation relative to peak NIRv and SIF signals during high-productivity months, which suggests that GPP in the most productive regions of Africa might be larger than suggested.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2843-2857
Number of pages15
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - May 10 2021

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Earth-Surface Processes


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