An Overview of Global Leaf Area Index (LAI): Methods, Products, Validation, and Applications

Hongliang Fang, Frédéric Baret, Stephen Plummer, Gabriela Schaepman-Strub
2019
Leaf area index (LAI) is a critical vegetation structural variable and is essential in the feedback of vegetation to the climate system. The advancement of the global Earth Observation has enabled the development of global LAI products and boosted global Earth system modeling studies. This overview provides a comprehensive analysis of LAI field measurements and remote sensing estimation methods, the product validation methods and product uncertainties, and the application of LAI in global
more » ... s. First, the paper clarifies some definitions related to LAI and introduces methods to determine LAI from field measurements and remote sensing observations. After introducing some major global LAI products, progresses made in temporal compositing and prospects for future LAI estimation are analyzed. Subsequently, the overview discusses various LAI product validation schemes, uncertainties in global moderate resolution LAI products, and high resolution reference data. Finally, applications of LAI in global vegetation change, land surface modeling, and agricultural studies are presented. It is recommended that (1) continued efforts are taken to advance LAI estimation algorithms and provide high temporal and spatial resolution products from current and forthcoming missions; (2) further validation studies be conducted to address the inadequacy of current validation studies, especially for underrepresented regions and seasons; and (3) new research frontiers, such as machine learning algorithms, light detection and ranging technology, and unmanned aerial vehicles be pursued to broaden the production and application of LAI. Abstract Leaf area index (LAI) is a critical vegetation structural variable and is essential in the feedback of vegetation to the climate system. The advancement of the global Earth Observation has enabled the development of global LAI products and boosted global Earth system modeling studies. This overview provides a comprehensive analysis of LAI field measurements and remote sensing estimation methods, the product validation methods and product uncertainties, and the application of LAI in global studies. First, the paper clarifies some definitions related to LAI and introduces methods to determine LAI from field measurements and remote sensing observations. After introducing some major global LAI products, progresses made in temporal compositing and prospects for future LAI estimation are analyzed. Subsequently, the overview discusses various LAI product validation schemes, uncertainties in global moderate resolution LAI products, and high resolution reference data. Finally, applications of LAI in global vegetation change, land surface modeling, and agricultural studies are presented. It is recommended that (1) continued efforts are taken to advance LAI estimation algorithms and provide high temporal and spatial resolution products from current and forthcoming missions; (2) further validation studies be conducted to address the inadequacy of current validation studies, especially for underrepresented regions and seasons; and (3) new research frontiers, such as machine learning algorithms, light detection and ranging technology, and unmanned aerial vehicles be pursued to broaden the production and application of LAI.
doi:10.5167/uzh-182535 fatcat:a3vubhwgtjg3nj24xg4t5hpdqe