Biochemical properties retrieved from remote sensing data are crucial sources of information for many applications. However, leaf and canopy scattering processes must be accounted for to reliably estimate information on canopy biochemistry, carbon-cycle processes and energy exchange. A coupled leaf-canopy model based on spectral invariants theory has been proposed, that uses the so-called Directional Area Scattering Factor (DASF) to correct hyperspectral remote sensing data for canopy structural effects. In this study, the reliability of DASF to decouple canopy structure and biochemistry was empirically tested using simulated reflectance spectra modelled using a Monte Carlo Ray Tracing (MCRT) radiative transfer model. This approach allows all canopy and radiative properties to be specified a priori. Simulations were performed under idealised conditions of directional-hemispherical reflectance, isotropic Lambertian leaf reflectance and transmittance and sufficiently dense (high LAI) canopies with black soil where the impact of canopy background is negligible, and also departures from these conditions. It was shown that both DASF and total canopy scattering could be accurately extracted under idealised conditions using information from both the full 400–2500 nm spectral interval and the 710–790 nm interval alone, even given no prior knowledge of leaf optical properties. Departures from these idealised conditions: varying view geometry, bi-directional reflectance, LAI and soil effects, were tested. We demonstrate that total canopy scattering could be retrieved under conditions of varying view geometry and bi-directional reflectance, but LAI and soil effects were shown to reduce the accuracy with which the scattering can be modelled using the DASF approach. We show that canopy architecture, either homogeneous or heterogeneous 3D arrangements of canopy scattering elements, has important influences over DASF and consequently the accuracy of retrieval of total canopy scattering. Finally, although DASF and total canopy scattering could be retrieved to within 2.4% of the modelled total canopy scattering signal given no prior knowledge of leaf optical properties, spectral invariant parameters were not accurately retrieved from the simulated signal. This has important consequences since these parameters are quite widely used in canopy reflectance modelling and have the potential to help derive new, more accurate canopy biophysical information. Understanding and quantifying the limitations of the DASF approach as we have done here, is an important step in allowing the wider use of these methods for decoupling canopy structure and biochemistry.
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