Seasonal Changes in Leaf Area of Amazon Forests from Leaf Flushing and Abscission

Type: Journal Article

Venue: Journal of Geophysical Research


Samanta, A., Y. Knyazikhin, L. Xu, R. E. Dickinson, R. Fu, M. H. Costa, S. S. Saatchi, R. R. Nemani, and R. B. Myneni (2012), Seasonal changes in leaf area of Amazon forests from leaf flushing and abscission, J. Geophys. Res., 117, G01015, doi:10.1029/2011JG001818.

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A large increase in near-infrared (NIR) reflectance of Amazon forests during the light-rich dry season and a corresponding decrease during the light-poor wet season has been observed in satellite measurements. This increase has been variously interpreted as seasonal change in leaf area resulting from net leaf flushing in the dry season or net leaf abscission in the wet season, enhanced photosynthetic activity during the dry season from flushing new leaves and as change in leaf scattering and absorption properties between younger and older leaves covered with epiphylls. Reconciling these divergent views using theory and observations is the goal of this article. The observed changes in NIR reflectance of Amazon forests could be due to similar, but small, changes in NIR leaf albedo (reflectance plus transmittance) resulting from the exchange of older leaves for newer ones, but with the total leaf area unchanged. However, this argument ignores accumulating evidence from ground-based reports of higher leaf area in the dry season than the wet season, seasonal changes in litterfall and does not satisfactorily explain why NIR reflectance of these forests decreases in the wet season. More plausibly, the increase in NIR reflectance during the dry season and the decrease during the wet season would result from changes in both leaf area and leaf optical properties. Such change would be consistent with known phenological behavior of tropical forests, ground-based reports of seasonal changes in leaf area, litterfall, leaf optical properties and fluxes of evapotranspiration, and thus, would reconcile the various seemingly divergent views.