Digital photography for assessing the link between vegetation phenology and CO2 exchange in two contrasting northern ecosystems
Abstract. Digital repeat photography has become a widely used tool for assessing the annual course of vegetation phenology of different ecosystems. By using the green chromatic coordinate (GCC) as a greenness measure, we examined the feasibility of digital repeat photography for assessing the vegetation phenology in two contrasting high-latitude ecosystems. Ecosystem–atmosphere CO2 fluxes and various meteorological variables were continuously measured at both sites. While the seasonal changes in GCC were more obvious for the ecosystem that is dominated by annual plants (open wetland), clear seasonal patterns were also observed for the evergreen ecosystem (coniferous forest). Daily and seasonal time periods with sufficient solar radiation were determined based on images of a grey reference plate. The variability in cloudiness had only a minor effect on GCC, and GCC did not depend on the sun angle and direction either. The daily GCC of wetland correlated well with the daily photosynthetic capacity estimated from the CO2 flux measurements. At the forest site, the correlation was high in 2015 but there were discernible deviations during the course of the summer of 2014. The year-to-year differences were most likely generated by meteorological conditions, with higher temperatures coinciding with higher GCCs. In addition to depicting the seasonal course of ecosystem functioning, GCC was shown to respond to environmental changes on a timescale of days. Overall, monitoring of phenological variations with digital images provides a powerful tool for linking gross primary production and phenology.