Solar-induced chlorophyll fluorescence (SIF) has been shown to be a suitable remote sensing proxy of photosynthesis at multiple scales. However, the relationship between fluorescence and photosynthesis observed at the leaf level cannot be directly applied to the interpretation of retrieved SIF due to the impact of canopy structure. We carried out a SIF modelling study for a heterogeneous forest canopy considering the effect of canopy structure in the Discrete Anisotropic Radiative Transfer (DART) model. A 3D forest simulation scene consisting of realistic trees and understory, including multi-scale clumping at branch and canopy level, was constructed from terrestrial laser scanning data using the combined model TreeQSM and FaNNI for woody structure and leaf insertion, respectively. Next, using empirical data and a realistic range of leaf-level biochemical and physiological parameters, we conducted a local sensitivity analysis to demonstrate the potential of the approach for assessing the impact of structural, biochemical and physiological factors on top of canopy (TOC) SIF. The analysis gave insight into the factors that drive the intensity and spectral properties of TOC SIF in heterogeneous boreal forest canopies. DART simulated red TOC fluorescence was found to be less affected by biochemical factors such as chlorophyll and dry matter contents or the senescent factor than far-red fluorescence. In contrast, canopy structural factors such as overstory leaf area index (LAI), leaf angle distribution and fractional cover had a substantial and comparable impact across all SIF wavelengths, with the exception of understory LAI that affected predominantly far-red fluorescence. Finally, variations in the fluorescence quantum efficiency (Fqe) of photosystem II affected all TOC SIF wavelengths. Our results also revealed that not only canopy structural factors but also understory fluorescence should be considered in the interpretation of tower, airborne and satellite SIF datasets, especially when acquired in the (near-) nadir viewing direction and for forests with open canopies. We suggest that the modelling strategy introduced in this study, coupled with the increasing availability of TLS and other 3D data sources, can be applied to resolve the interplay between physiological, biochemical and structural factors affecting SIF across ecosystems and independently of canopy complexity, paving the way for future SIF-based 3D photosynthesis models.
- Boreal forest
- Far-red SIF
- Red SIF
- Silver birch
- Solar-induced chlorophyll fluorescence