From the Ground to Space: Using Solar-Induced Chlorophyll Fluorescence to Estimate Crop Productivity

Liyin He, Troy Magney, Debsunder Dutta, Yi Yin, Philipp Köhler, Katja Grossmann, Jochen Stutz, Christian Dold, Jerry Hatfield, Kaiyu Guan, Bin Peng, Christian Frankenberg

Research output: Contribution to journalLetterpeer-review


Timely and accurate monitoring of crops is essential for food security. Here, we examine how well solar-induced chlorophyll fluorescence (SIF) can inform crop productivity across the United States. Based on tower-level observations and process-based modeling, we find highly linear gross primary production (GPP):SIF relationships for C4 crops, while C3 crops show some saturation of GPP at high light when SIF continues to increase. C4 crops yield higher GPP:SIF ratios (30–50%) primarily because SIF is most sensitive to the light reactions (does not account for photorespiration). Scaling to the satellite, we compare SIF from the TROPOspheric Monitoring Instrument (TROPOMI) against tower-derived GPP and county-level crop statistics. Temporally, TROPOMI SIF strongly agrees with GPP observations upscaled across a corn and soybean dominated cropland (R2 = 0.89). Spatially, county-level TROPOMI SIF correlates with crop productivity (R2 = 0.72; 0.86 when accounting for planted area and C3/C4 contributions), highlighting the potential of SIF for reliable crop monitoring.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere2020GL087474
JournalGeophysical Research Letters
Issue number7
StatePublished - Apr 16 2020


  • crop monitoring
  • fluorescence
  • gross primary production
  • net primary production

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geophysics
  • General Earth and Planetary Sciences


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