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Testing The Performance Of A Novel Spectral Reflectance Sensor, Built With Light Emitting Diodes (LEDs), To Monitor Ecosystem Metabolism, Structure And Function

Youngryel Ryu, D. Baldocchi, J. Verfaillie, Siyan Ma, M. Falk, I. Ruiz-Mercado, Ted Hehn, O. Sonnentag
Published 2010 · Environmental Science

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Abstract We developed and tested the use of light emitting diodes (LEDs) to monitor vegetation reflectance in narrow spectral bands as a tool suitable for quantifying and monitoring ecosystem structure, function and metabolism. LEDs are appealing because they are inexpensive, small and reliable light sources that, when used in reverse mode, can measure spectrally selective radiation. We selected LEDs in red and near-infrared wavebands as they are used to calculate the normalized difference vegetation index (NDVI). The lab experiments revealed that the LEDs showed linear relation with a hyper-spectral spectroradiometer ( R 2  > 0.94 and 0.99 for red and NIR, respectively) and marginal sensitivity to temperature. To test the efficacy of this novel sensor, we measured spectral reflectance with LEDs over an annual grassland in California over 3.5 years. The LED-sensor captured daily to interannual variation of the spectral reflectance at the two bands with reliable and stable performance. The spectral reflectance in the two bands and NDVI proved to be useful to identify the leaf-on and leaf-off dates (mean bias errors of 5.3 and 4.2 days, respectively) and to estimate canopy photosynthesis ( R 2  = 0.91). We suggest that this novel instrument can monitor other structural and functional (e.g. leaf area index, leaf nitrogen) variables by employing LEDs that have other specific wavelengths bands. Considering that off-the-shelf LEDs cover a wide range of wavebands from the ultraviolet to near-infrared regions, we believe that the research community could explore a range of similar instruments across a range of bands for a variety of ecological applications.
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