Assimilating canopy reflectance data into an ecosystem model with an Ensemble Kalman Filter

Tristan Quaife, Philip Lewis*, Martin De Kauwe, Mathew Williams, Beverly E. Law, Mathias Disney, Paul Bowyer

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

123 Citations (Scopus)


An Ensemble Kalman Filter (EnKF) is used to assimilate canopy reflectance data into an ecosystem model. We demonstrate the use of an augmented state vector approach to enable a canopy reflectance model to be used as a non-linear observation operator. A key feature of data assimilation (DA) schemes, such as the EnKF, is that they incorporate information on uncertainty in both the model and the observations to provide a best estimate of the true state of a system. In addition, estimates of uncertainty in the model outputs (given the observed data) are calculated, which is crucial in assessing the utility of model predictions. Results are compared against eddy-covariance observations of CO2 fluxes collected over three years at a pine forest site. The assimilation of 500 m spatial resolution MODIS reflectance data significantly improves estimates of Gross Primary Production (GPP) and Net Ecosystem Productivity (NEP) from the model, with clear reduction in the resulting uncertainty of estimated fluxes. However, foliar biomass tends to be over-estimated compared with measurements. Issues regarding this over-estimate, as well as the various assumptions underlying the assimilation of reflectance data are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1347-1364
Number of pages18
JournalRemote Sensing of Environment
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 15 Apr 2008

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We would like to acknowledge the support of NERC in this work through funding of the NERC Centre for Terrestrial Carbon Dynamics (CTCD). We are also most grateful to Dr. Wenge Ni-Meister for the provision of source code for the GORT model, the supporting work of Paul Schwarz, James Irvine and Meredith Kurpius at OSU and to the anonymous reviewers for their helpful comments.


  • Data assimilation
  • Ecosystem modelling
  • Terrestrial Carbon Dynamics


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