Because LAI is a dimensionless quantity and an extensive surface parameter, it can be measured, analyzed, and modeled across a range of spatial scales, from individual tree crowns to whole regions or continents. Estimation of LAI across a landscape is needed for regional ecosystem analysis or modeling, but recent meta-analysis of worldwide LAI measurements highlights weaknesses in the ecological and geographical coverage of LAI measurements on a global basis. LAI is a canopy parameter in several models of growth or net primary production, but also in interactive models of land surface and atmospheric processes. Across wide landscapes, remote sensing is used to derive LAI maps to initiate regional or global modeling and automatic mapping of LAI at 8 km spatial resolution (NASA MODIS satellite data) offers global coverage of the biosphere. The reason for such a broad global ecological research interest in LAI is due to its emergent properties but it is still the subject of controversy in terms of scaling.
See also: Biomass, Gross Production, and Net Production; Ecosystems; Evapotranspiration; Forest Models; Leaf Area Index Models; Life Forms, Plants; Light Extinction; Plant Ecology; Remote Sensing; Seasonality; Tree Growth; Water Cycle Management.
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