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Theoretical limits to the estimation of the leaf area index on the basis of visible and near-infrared remote sensing data

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3 Author(s)
Gobron, N. ; Univ. Blaise Pascal, Aubiere, France ; Pinty, B. ; Verstraete, M.M.

The Leaf Area Index (LAI) of a plant canopy is an important environmental parameter required by various applications. It would be highly desirable to be able to estimate this parameter on the basis of satellite remote sensing data in the optical spectral range. However, LAI affects the propagation of light in a plant canopy (and therefore its measurable reflectance factor) exclusively through a boundary condition of the equation of radiation transfer. It is shown that LAI may be retrievable accurately and reliably only when the canopy is optically thin enough to allow a significant illumination of the underlying soil, and when the optical properties of this soil are such that the radiance field emerging from this level is sufficiently different from that which would be exhibited by a deeper canopy. The combinations of radiative conditions (soil and plant properties) necessary for the reliable and accurate retrieval of the LAI on the basis of remote sensing reflectance data acquired above the canopy in the red and near-infrared spectral regions are investigated and documented with the help of simulation studies. These results show the retrievability of LAI from remote sensing data in optimal situations, however

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Geoscience and Remote Sensing, IEEE Transactions on  (Volume:35 ,  Issue: 6 )