Satellite-based modeling of gross primary production in a seasonally moist tropical evergreen forest

Xiangming Xiao, Qingyuan Zhang, Scott Saleska, Lucy Hutyra, Plinio De Camargo, Steven Wofsy, Stephen Frolking, Stephen Boles, Michael Keller, Berrien Moore

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

247 Scopus citations


A CO 2 eddy flux tower study has recently reported that an old-growth stand of seasonally moist tropical evergreen forest in Santarém, Brazil, maintained high gross primary production (GPP) during the dry seasons [Saleska, S. R., Miller, S. D., Matross, D. M., Goulden, M. L., Wofsy, S. C., da Rocha, H. R., de Camargo, P. B., Crill, P., Daube, B. C., de Freitas, H. C., Hutyra, L., Keller, M., Kirchhoff, V., Menton, M., Munger, J. W., Pyle, E. H., Rice, A. H., & Silva, H. (2003). Carbon in amazon forests: Unexpected seasonal fluxes and disturbance-induced losses. Science, 302, 1554-1557]. It was proposed that seasonally moist tropical evergreen forests have evolved two adaptive mechanisms in an environment with strong seasonal variations of light and water: deep roots system for access to water in deep soils and leaf phenology for access to light. Identifying tropical forests with these adaptive mechanisms could substantially improve our capacity of modeling the seasonal dynamics of carbon and water fluxes in the tropical zone. In this paper, we have analyzed multi-year satellite images from the VEGETATION (VGT) sensor onboard the SPOT-4 satellite (4/1998-12/2002) and the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) onboard the Terra satellite (2000-2003). We reported temporal analyses of vegetation indices and simulations of the satellite-based vegetation photosynthesis model (VPM). The Enhanced Vegetation Index (EVI) identified subtle changes in the seasonal dynamics of leaf phenology (leaf emergence, leaf aging and leaf fall) in the forest, as suggested by the leaf litterfall data. The land surface water index (LSWI) indicated that the forest experienced no water stress in the dry seasons of 1998-2002. The VPM model, which uses EVI, LSWI and site-specific climate data (air temperature and photosynthetically active radiation, PAR) for 2001-2002, predicted high GPP in the late dry seasons, consistent with observed high evapotranspiration and estimated GPP from the CO 2 eddy flux tower.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)105-122
Number of pages18
JournalRemote Sensing of Environment
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 15 2005


  • Leaf phenology
  • Liquid water index
  • Vegetation index
  • Vegetation photosynthesis model

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Soil Science
  • Geology
  • Computers in Earth Sciences


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