Despite the importance of tidal ecosystems in the global carbon budget, the relationships between environmental drivers and carbon dynamics in these wetlands remain poorly understood. This limited understanding results from the challenges associated with in situ flux studies and their correlation with satellite imagery which can be affected by periodic tidal flooding. Carbon dioxide eddy covariance (EC) towers are installed in only a few wetlands worldwide, and the longest eddy-covariance record from Georgia (GA) wetlands contains only two continuous years of observations. The goals of the present study were to evaluate the performance of existing MODIS Gross Primary Production (GPP) products (MOD17A2) against EC derived GPP and develop a tide-robust Normalized Difference Moisture Index (NDMI) based model to predict GPP within a Spartina alterniflora
salt marsh on Sapelo Island, GA. These EC tower-based observations represent a basis to associate CO2
fluxes with canopy reflectance and thus provide the means to use satellite-based reflectance data for broader scale investigations. We demonstrate that Light Use Efficiency (LUE)-based MOD17A2 does not accurately reflect tidal wetland GPP compared to a simple empirical vegetation index-based model where tidal influence was accounted for. The NDMI-based GPP model was capable of predicting changes in wetland CO2
fluxes and explained 46% of the variation in flux-estimated GPP within the training data, and a root mean square error of 6.96 g C m−2
in the validation data. Our investigation is the first to create a MODIS-based wetland GPP estimation procedure that demonstrates the importance of filtering tidal observations from satellite surface reflectance data.
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