Comparison and sensitivity analysis of instruments and radiometric methods for LAI estimation: Assessments from a boreal forest site

Edward J. Hyer, Scott J. Goetz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

64 Scopus citations


Retrievals of LAI from inversion of canopy radiometric measurements, using the Li-Cor LAI-2000 Plant Canopy Analyzer and the Decagon AccuPar Ceptometer (a linear quantum probe) were analyzed and compared. Field data were collected from 34 sites in the boreal forest of interior Alaska, and sensitivity tests were conducted to estimate the effect of a variety of measurement conditions on the LAI retrievals. We also tested the response of estimated LAI to different values of the theoretical parameters in the retrieval algorithms. Uncertainty in the incident radiation level was magnified by the LAI retrieval, meaning that even small errors in this measurement significantly affected the LAI estimates. Changes in solar zenith angle over long data acquisition times also contributed to the errors. The most important quality control factors for accurate retrieval of LAI from field measurements were the incident radiation and solar zenith angle. A series of sensitivity tests showed that extreme values of leaf angle distribution could change LAI estimates, but our multi-angle measurements produced results consistent with a spherical leaf angle distribution. Alternative methods taken from the literature for post-processing of the data from the two instruments produced similar results for the LAI-2000, but widely different results for the Decagon AccuPar. Retrievals from the two instruments had an overall correlation coefficient r=0.88,(P<0.01). Agreement was considerably better in aspen stands (r=0.85,P<0.01,N=43) than in spruce (r=0.56,P<0.05,N=22). Some of the variability was attributed to spatial heterogeneity within stands, particularly sparse spruce canopies. Overall, our results suggest the retrievals were robust, and largely comparable between instruments over a range of measurement conditions, provided variability in measurement conditions was adequately characterized.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)157-174
Number of pages18
JournalAgricultural and Forest Meteorology
Issue number3-4
StatePublished - Apr 20 2004
Externally publishedYes


  • Boreal forest
  • Canopy
  • Interception
  • LAI
  • PAR
  • Sensitivity
  • Transmission

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Forestry
  • Global and Planetary Change
  • Agronomy and Crop Science
  • Atmospheric Science


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