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Journal of Environmental Quality Abstract -

Optical Properties of Intact Leaves for Estimating Chlorophyll Concentration


This article in JEQ

  1. Vol. 31 No. 5, p. 1424-1432
    Received: Jan 17, 2001

    * Corresponding author(s): gcarter@ssc.nasa.gov
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  1. Gregory A. Carter * and
  2. Bruce A. Spiering
  1. Earth Science Applications Directorate, National Aeronautics and Space Administration, Stennis Space Center, MS 39529


Changes in leaf chlorophyll content can serve as relative indicators of plant vigor and environmental quality. This study identified reflectance, transmittance, and absorptance wavebands and band ratios within the 400- to 850-nm range for intact leaves that could be used to estimate extracted leaf chlorophyll per unit leaf area (areal concentration) with minimal error. Leaf optical properties along with chlorophyll a, b, and a + b concentrations were measured for the planar-leaved sweetgum (Liquidambar styraciflua L.), red maple (Acer rubrum L.), wild grape (Vitis rotundifolia Michx.), and switchcane [Arundinaria gigantea (Walter) Muhl.], and for needles of longleaf pine (Pinus palustris Miller). Generally, reflectance, transmittance, and absorptance corresponded most precisely with chlorophyll concentrations at wavelengths near 700 nm, although regressions were also strong in the 550- to 625-nm range. A power function was superior to a simple linear function in yielding low standard deviations of the estimate (s). When data were combined among the planar-leaved species, s values were low at approximately 50 μmol/m2 out of a 940 μmol/m2 range in chlorophyll a + b at best-fit wavelengths of 707 to 709 nm. Minimal s values for chlorophyll a + b ranged from 32 to 62 μmol/m2 across species when band ratios having numerator wavelengths of 693 to 720 nm were used with the application of a power function. Optimal denominator wavelengths for the band ratios were 850 nm for reflectance and transmittance and 400 nm for absorptance. This information can be applied in designing field portable chlorophyll meters and in the landscape-scale remote sensing of plant responses to the environment.

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Copyright © 2002. American Society of Agronomy, Crop Science Society of America, Soil Science SocietyPublished in J. Environ. Qual.31:1424–1432.