Optics of Photosynthesis Lab contributes to the observation of photosynthesis from Space

Over the last decade, a few space missions have shown that the tinny chlorophyll fluorescence signal that emanates from all higher plants can be seen from space. These missions however had very coarse resolutions (with e.g. 100km2 pixels) which greatly limited their scientific utilization.

OCO-2 is one of NASA’s new satellites from which solar-induced fluorescence (SIF) can be retrieved whithin a Fraunhofer line located around 760nm. In a recent Science paper, Sun et al. demonstrate the new capabilities of OCO-2 derived SIF which, at a spatial resolution of 1×2 km, can already yield meaningful SIF values that show particulartly good correlations with tower-based measurements of gross primary productivity. In  this study we assess the future potential and challenges for the interpretation of SIF data sources that are continuously increasing in quality and resolution. In this context, OPL is currently working towards the mechanistic understanding of multiscale SIF drivers, in preparation for future hi-resolution satellite data. See Full PDF in our Publication Section.