Fluorescence Correction Vegetation Index (FCVI): A physically based reflectance index to separate physiological and non-physiological information in far-red sun-induced chlorophyll fluorescence

Peiqi Yang*, C. van der Tol, Petya K.E. Campbell, Elizabeth M. Middleton

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

55 Citations (Scopus)
43 Downloads (Pure)


Sun-induced chlorophyll fluorescence (SIF) has been used to track vegetation photosynthetic activity for improving estimation of gross primary productivity (GPP) and detecting plant stress. There are both physical and physiological controls of SIF measured at the surface and retrieved from remote sensing including satellite observations. In order to accurately use SIF for monitoring of plant physiology, the effects of physically-based radiation processes related to leaf and canopy structure, notably photosynthetically active radiation (PAR) absorption and SIF scattering and re-absorption, must be characterized. In this study, we investigate both PAR absorption and SIF scattering processes and find that although it is difficult to quantify their effects individually by using just reflectance, the combined effects of the two processes can be well approximated by a reflectance index. This index, referred to as FCVI (Fluorescence Correction Vegetation Index), is defined as the difference between near-infrared (NIR) and broad-band visible (VIS, 400–700 nm) reflectance acquired under identical sun-canopy-observer geometry of the SIF measurements. The development of the index was based on the physical connection between reflectance and far-red SIF, which was revealed by using the spectral invariant theory. The utility of FCVI to correct far-red SIF for PAR absorption and scattering effects, thus improving the link to photosynthesis, was tested with data from: (i) a field experiment for a growing season; and (ii) a numerical experiment which included a number of scenarios generated by a radiative transfer model. For both the observations and simulations, the FCVI provided a promising estimate of the impact of the physically-based radiation processes on far-red SIF of moderately dense canopies (i.e., FCVI ≥ 0.18). Normalizing the TOC far-red SIF by both the incident PAR (iPAR) and the FCVI provided a good estimate of the far-red fluorescence emission efficiency of the canopies examined. This approach enhances our ability to generalize retrievals for vegetation processes as they change through natural growth phases and seasons. Taken together, far-red SIF and FCVI may enable the assessment of the light partitioning of vegetation canopies, an essential step to facilitate the use of far-red SIF for tracking physiological processes.

Original languageEnglish
Article number111676
Pages (from-to)1-16
Number of pages16
JournalRemote sensing of environment
Early online date31 Jan 2020
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2020


  • Canopy structure
  • Chlorophyll fluorescence
  • Photosynthesis
  • Spectral invariants
  • Sun-observer geometry
  • Vegetation reflectance index
  • 22/2 OA procedure


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