Global photosynthetic capacity of C3 biomes retrieved from solar-induced chlorophyll fluorescence and leaf chlorophyll content

Y Liu, J M Chen, L He, R Wang, Nicholas Smith, T F Keenan, C Rogers, W Li, J Leng

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


The maximum Ribulose-1,5-bisphosphate carboxylase/oxygenase (Rubisco) carboxylation rate (Vcmax) has been widely used to help determine the photosynthetic capacity for carbon cycle modelling. Field measurements of Vcmax are very limited, so fixed Vcmax values over growing seasons are often used, causing considerable uncertainties in modelled results. Also, the lack of a global Vcmax dataset with seasonal variations limits our understanding of the spatial and temporal patterns of Vcmax, and hence photosynthesis. This study proposes a refined data assimilation scheme to retrieve daily Vcmax using remotely sensed solar-induced chlorophyll fluorescence (SIF) and leaf chlorophyll content (LCC) data. Using the refined method, we produced a global Vcmax dataset with daily 0.1° × 0.1° resolutions. The seasonal variations in Vcmax have been successfully retrieved. Vcmax retrieved in this study was compared with field-measured Vcmax from past literature. Good agreements were achieved in relation to Vcmax measured at 201 sites (R2 is 0.78, and relative RMSE is 34%) and the seasonal variation in Vcmax measured at 9 sites (R2 ranges from 0.57 to 0.99, and the relative RMSE ranged from 6% to 28%). Our method effectively utilizes the information from both SIF and LCC, showing advantages over previous approaches that estimate Vcmax based solely on using SIF or LCC. Our results suggest that the spatial distribution of Vcmax depends on the spatial distribution of biomes, along with air temperature and absorbed photosynthetically active radiation (APAR). Higher seasonal mean air temperature and APAR tend to lead to higher seasonal mean Vcmax. The seasonal variation in Vcmax is driven by the seasonal variations in air temperature and APAR, rather than their seasonal means. We also derived and analyzed Vcmax25, which is Vcmax normalized to 25 °C (Vcmax25) and has been found to be more closely related to the Rubisco content. Vcmax25 also has considerable spatiotemporal variations, and the variations differ to that in Vcmax. Different biomes have different ratios of Vcmax25 to LCC. Air temperature and APAR exert weak but positive effects on the seasonal variation in Vcmax25. Vcmax retrieved in this study enhances our understanding of the spatiotemporal pattern of leaf photosynthetic capacity on the global scale and is potentially useful to terrestrial carbon cycle modelling.

Original languageEnglish
Article number113457
Pages (from-to)113457
JournalRemote Sensing of Environment
StatePublished - Mar 15 2023


  • BEPS
  • Carbon cycle
  • Leaf chlorophyll content
  • Photosynthetic capacity
  • Solar-induced chlorophyll fluorescence
  • V


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