Vegetation chlorophyll estimates in the Amazon from multi-angle MODIS observations and canopy reflectance model

Thomas Hilker, Lênio Soares Galvão, Luiz E.O.C. Aragão, Yhasmin M. de Moura, Cibele H. do Amaral, Alexei I. Lyapustin, Jin Wu, Loren P. Albert, Marciel José Ferreira, Liana O. Anderson, Victor A.H.F. dos Santos, Neill Prohaska, Edgard Tribuzy, João Vitor Barbosa Ceron, Scott R. Saleska, Yujie Wang, José Francisco de Carvalho Gonçalves, Raimundo Cosme de Oliveira Junior, João Victor Figueiredo Cardoso Rodrigues, Maquelle Neves Garcia

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


As a preparatory study for future hyperspectral missions that can measure canopy chemistry, we introduce a novel approach to investigate whether multi-angle Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) data can be used to generate a preliminary database with long-term estimates of chlorophyll. MODIS monthly chlorophyll estimates between 2000 and 2015, derived from a fully coupled canopy reflectance model (ProSAIL), were inspected for consistency with eddy covariance fluxes, tower-based hyperspectral images and chlorophyll measurements. MODIS chlorophyll estimates from the inverse model showed strong seasonal variations across two flux-tower sites in central and eastern Amazon. Marked increases in chlorophyll concentrations were observed during the early dry season. Remotely sensed chlorophyll concentrations were correlated to field measurements (r2 = 0.73 and r2 = 0.98) but the data deviated from the 1:1 line with root mean square errors (RMSE) ranging from 0.355 μg cm−2 (Tapajós tower) to 0.470 μg cm−2 (Manaus tower). The chlorophyll estimates were consistent with flux tower measurements of photosynthetically active radiation (PAR) and net ecosystem productivity (NEP). We also applied ProSAIL to mono-angle hyperspectral observations from a camera installed on a tower to scale modeled chlorophyll pigments to MODIS observations (r2 = 0.73). Chlorophyll pigment concentrations (ChlA+B) were correlated to changes in the amount of young and mature leaf area per month (0.59 ≤ r2 ≤ 0.64). Increases in MODIS observed ChlA+B were preceded by increased PAR during the dry season (0.61 ≤ r2 ≤ 0.62) and followed by changes in net carbon uptake. We conclude that, at these two sites, changes in LAI, coupled with changes in leaf chlorophyll, are comparable with seasonality of plant productivity. Our results allowed the preliminary development of a 15-year time series of chlorophyll estimates over the Amazon to support canopy chemistry studies using future hyperspectral sensors.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)278-287
Number of pages10
JournalInternational Journal of Applied Earth Observation and Geoinformation
StatePublished - Jun 2017


  • Amazon
  • Chlorophyll
  • Hyperspectral
  • Multi-angular
  • Phenology
  • ProSAIL

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Global and Planetary Change
  • Earth-Surface Processes
  • Computers in Earth Sciences
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law


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