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Estimation of grass photosynthesis rates in mixed-grass prairie using field and remote sensing approaches



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With the increase in atmospheric CO2 concentrations, and the resulting potential for climate change, there has been increasing research devoted to understanding the factors that determine the magnitude of CO2 fluxes and the feedback of ecosystem fluxes on climate. This thesis is an effort to investigate the feasibility of using alternate methods to measure and estimate the CO2 exchange rates in the northern mixed grass prairie. Specifically, the objectives are to evaluate the capability of using ground-level hyperspectral, and satellite-level multispectral data in the estimation of mid-season leaf CO2 exchange rates as measured with a chamber, in and around Grasslands National Park (GNP), Saskatchewan. Data for the first manuscript was collected during June of 2004 (the approximate period for peak greenness for the study area). Spectral reflectance and CO2 exchange measurements were collected from 13 sites in and around GNP. Linear regression showed that the Photochemical Reflectance Index (PRI) calculated from hyperspectral ground-level data explained 46% of the variance seen in the CO2 exchange rates. This indicates that the PRI, which has traditionally been used only in laboratory conditions to predict CO2 exchange, can also be applied at the canopy level in grassland field conditions. The focus of the second manuscript is to establish if the relationship found between ground-level hyperspectral data and leaf CO2 exchange is applicable to satellite-level derived vegetation indices. During June of 2005, biophysical and CO2 exchange measurements were collected from 24 sites in and around GNP. A SPOT satellite image was obtained from June 22, midway through the field data collection. Cubic regression showed that Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI) explained 46% of the variance observed in the CO2 exchange rates. To our knowledge, this is the first time that a direct correlation between satellite images and leaf CO2 fluxes has been shown within the grassland biome.



carbon dioxide exchange, SPOT, grassland, vegetation index, hyperspectral data



Master of Science (M.Sc.)






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