Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Studying crops, from outer space

Date:
March 24, 2014
Source:
Carnegie Institution
Summary:
Plants convert energy from sunlight into chemical energy during a process called photosynthesis. This energy is passed on to humans and animals that eat the plants, and thus photosynthesis is the primary source of energy for all life on Earth. New work uses a breakthrough in satellite technology to measure light that is emitted by plant leaves as a byproduct of photosynthesis from space.

This is an illustration of the process of measuring photosynthesis from space, courtesy of the Keck Institute for Space Studies.
Credit: Keck Institute for Space Studies

Plants convert energy from sunlight into chemical energy during a process called photosynthesis. This energy is passed on to humans and animals that eat the plants, and thus photosynthesis is the primary source of energy for all life on Earth. But the photosynthetic activity of various regions is changing due to human interaction with the environment, including climate change, which makes large-scale studies of photosynthetic activity of interest. New research from a team including Carnegie's Joe Berry reveals a fundamentally new approach for measuring photosynthetic activity as it occurs around the planet. It is published this week by Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Their work is based on a breakthrough in the capacity to use satellite technology to measure light that is emitted by plant leaves as a byproduct of photosynthesis. This light is called fluorescence and it is produced when sunlight excites the photosynthetic pigment chloropyll. The method offers a direct measurement of activity occurring as the satellite passes overhead. Other approaches to detecting photosynthetic activity on a large scale are less direct, so until now, models have been the primary tool for estimating photosynthetic productivity on a planetary scale. The accuracy of these models has been difficult to evaluate.

"This new method uses satellites to sense fluorescence emitted during photosynthesis," Berry said. "It changes everything. It gives us a direct observation of photosynthesis on a large scale for the first time ever."

The team's paper reports on observations of fluorescence from large areas of crops in the Midwestern Corn Belt. The data show that the previous model-based estimates of photosynthesis are too low.

What's more, these studies provide a new-and-improved tool to evaluate the comparative productivity of the breadbaskets of the world, such as the Indo-Gangetic Plain and Eastern China. The relationship between fluorescence measured from space and gross primary production measured in the Corn Belt also provides a way for researchers to assess in near real-time the production of other, non-agricultural areas of the world, including vast expanses of uncultivated forests and grasslands.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Carnegie Institution. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. L. Guanter, Y. Zhang, M. Jung, J. Joiner, M. Voigt, J. A. Berry, C. Frankenberg, A. R. Huete, P. Zarco-Tejada, J.-E. Lee, M. S. Moran, G. Ponce-Campos, C. Beer, G. Camps-Valls, N. Buchmann, D. Gianelle, K. Klumpp, A. Cescatti, J. M. Baker, T. J. Griffis. Global and time-resolved monitoring of crop photosynthesis with chlorophyll fluorescence. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 2014; DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1320008111

Cite This Page:

Carnegie Institution. "Studying crops, from outer space." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 24 March 2014. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/03/140324154044.htm>.
Carnegie Institution. (2014, March 24). Studying crops, from outer space. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 17, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/03/140324154044.htm
Carnegie Institution. "Studying crops, from outer space." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/03/140324154044.htm (accessed September 17, 2014).

Share This



More Plants & Animals News

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Chimp Violence Study Renews Debate On Why They Kill

Chimp Violence Study Renews Debate On Why They Kill

Newsy (Sep. 17, 2014) The study weighs in on a debate over whether chimps are naturally violent or become that way due to human interference in the environment. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Some Tobacco Farmers Thrive Amid Challenges

Some Tobacco Farmers Thrive Amid Challenges

AP (Sep. 16, 2014) The South's tobacco country is surviving, and even thriving in some cases, as demand overseas keeps growers in the fields of one of America's oldest cash crops. (Sept. 16) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Scientists Given Rare Glimpse of 350-Kilo Colossal Squid

Scientists Given Rare Glimpse of 350-Kilo Colossal Squid

AFP (Sep. 16, 2014) Scientists say a female colossal squid weighing an estimated 350 kilograms (770 lbs) and thought to be only the second intact specimen ever found was carrying eggs when discovered in the Antarctic. Duration: 00:47 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Scientists Examine Colossal Squid

Raw: Scientists Examine Colossal Squid

AP (Sep. 16, 2014) Squid experts in New Zealand thawed and examined an unusual catch on Tuesday: a colossal squid. It was captured in Antarctica's remote Ross Sea in December last year and has been frozen for eight months. (Sept. 16) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins