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Assessing Grassland Biophysical Characteristics From Spectral Measurements

R. L. Weiser, G. Asrar, G. P. Miller, E. T. Kanemasu
Published 1986 · Environmental Science

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Abstract Remote sensing offers a potential alternative to tedious hand sampling as a means of monitoring vegetation condition and estimating productivity over large areas of grasslands. This study was conducted to assess the use of spectral reflectance measurements in estimating grass canopy leaf area index (LAI) and total above ground green phytomass. Spectral reflectance measurements were made on a tallgrass prairie during 1983 and 1984 with two multiband radiometers. Green leaf-area index and dry matter accumulations (green above-ground phytomass) were measured on the area monitored by the radiometer. Three indices—near-infrared to red ratio, greenness, and normalized difference—were computed from spectral reflectance data. The direct relationships between these spectral reflectance indices and grass biophysical parameters (LAI and phytomass) were site-dependent and year-specific. Indirect methods of estimating LAI and phytomass from estimates of absorbed, phytosynthetically active radiation, based on measurements of grass canopy spectral reflectance, were found to be more consistent across treatments for the two years of this study.
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