Leaf area index uncertainty estimates for model-data fusion applications

Andrew D. Richardson, D. Bryan Dail, D. Y. Hollinger

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

49 Scopus citations


Estimates of data uncertainties are required to integrate different observational data streams as model constraints using model-data fusion. We describe an approach with which random and systematic uncertainties in optical measurements of leaf area index [LAI] can be quantified. We use data from a measurement campaign at the spruce-dominated Howland Forest AmeriFlux site for illustrative purposes. We made measurements along two transects (one in a mature stand, one in a recently harvested shelterwood) before sunset on successive days using both the Li-Cor LAI-2000 plant canopy analyzer and digital hemispherical photography (DHP). The random measurement uncertainty (1 σ) at a given point for a single measurement is about 5% for LAI-2000 and 10% for DHP. These uncertainties are small compared to potential systematic biases due to instrument calibration errors and data processing decisions, which are estimated to be 10-20% for each instrument. Sampling uncertainty (due to the spatial variability along each transect where we conducted our measurements) is an additional, but again relatively small, uncertainty. Assumptions about clumping parameters, for which standard literature values are typically used, remain large sources of uncertainty. This analysis can also be used to develop strategies to reduce measurement uncertainties.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1287-1292
Number of pages6
JournalAgricultural and Forest Meteorology
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 15 2011
Externally publishedYes


  • Carbon cycle
  • Data assimilation
  • Data-model fusion
  • Error analysis
  • Leaf area index
  • Uncertainty

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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


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