The photochemical reflectance index (PRI) is a proxy for light use efficiency (LUE), and is used in remote sensing to measure plant stress and photosynthetic downregulation in plant canopies. It is known to depend on local light conditions within a canopy indicating non-photosynthetic quenching of incident radiation. Additionally, when measured from a distance, canopy PRI depends on shadow fraction—the fraction of shaded foliage in the instantaneous field of view of the sensor—due to observation geometry. Our aim is to quantify the extent to which sunlit fraction alone can describe variations in PRI so that it would be possible to correct for its variation and identify other possible factors affecting the PRI–sunlit fraction relationship. We used a high spatial and spectral resolution Aisa Eagle airborne imaging spectrometer above a boreal Scots pine site in Finland (Hyytiälä forest research station, 61°50′N, 24°17′E), with the sensor looking in nadir and tilted (off-nadir) directions. The spectral resolution of the data was 4.6 nm, and the spatial resolution was 0.6 m. We compared the PRI for three different scatter angles (
°, defined as the angle between sensor and solar directions) at the forest stand level, and observed a small (0.006) but statistically significant (p
< 0.01) difference in stand PRI. We found that stand mean PRI was not a direct function of sunlit fraction. However, for each scatter angle separately, we found a clear non-linear relationship between PRI and sunlit fraction. The relationship was systematic and had a similar shape for all of the scatter angles. As the PRI–sunlit fraction curves for the different scatter angles were shifted with respect to each other, no universal curve could be found causing the observed independence of canopy PRI from the average sunlit fraction of each view direction. We found the shifts of the curves to be related to a leaf structural effect on canopy scattering: the ratio of needle spectral reflectance to transmittance. We demonstrate that modeling PRI–sunlit fraction relationships using high spatial resolution imaging spectroscopy data is suitable and needed in order to quantify PRI variations over forest canopies.
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License
which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.