Global monitoring of vegetation using optical remote sensing has undergone rapid technological and methodological development during the past decade. Physically based methods generally apply reflectance models for interpreting remotely sensed data sets. These methods have become increasingly important in the assessment of terrestrial variables from satellite-borne and airborne images. Products based on satellite images currently include various ecological variables that are needed for monitoring changes in forest cover, structure and functioning, including biophysical variables such as the amount of photosynthesizing leaf area. This paper reviews variables and global products estimated from optical satellite sensors describing, for example, the amount and functioning of green biomass and forest carbon exchange. Continuous validation work as new vegetation products are released continues to be important. More emphasis is needed on the collection of field data equivalent to satellite retrievals, data harmonization and continuous measurements of seasonal forest dynamics.
- Reflectance model