International Journal of Biometeorology

, Volume 58, Issue 8, pp 1803–1809

On the nature of canopy illumination due to differences in elemental orientation and aggregation for radiative transfer

Short Note


The nature of canopy radiative transfer mechanism (CRTM) describes the amount of beam penetration through a canopy and governs the nature of canopy illumination, i.e. the abundance of sunlit and shaded portions. Realistic representation of canopy illumination is critical for simulating various canopy biophysical processes associated with vegetated land surfaces. The adequate representation of CRTM can be attributed to the parameterizations of the two main canopy characteristics: the foliage projection (G-function) and the clumping effect (Ω function). Herein, using various types of G and Ω functions developed in a previous study, I tested 15 CRTM scenarios that combine different types of G and Ω functions to predict the dynamics of sunlit fraction (ε) of canopies having a wide range of plant area index (Ptotal) at various solar zenith angles (SZAs). It was observed that, for a given Ptotal, ε decreases as the SZA increases. However, ε significantly changed in accordance with the type of G and Ω functions used. Scenarios that employed random distribution of elements in space (S-4, S-9, and S-14) consistently returned larger ε values even at lower SZAs. This means that ignoring the clumping behavior of canopies could result in greater proportion of sunlit elements thereby reducing the beam penetration deeper into the canopy as opposed to those canopies where the elements are more aggregated. Beyond 70° SZA, almost all the scenarios returned similar ε values for a given Ptotal, which implied that the methods used is less sensitive at higher SZAs. The values of ε calculated by all the scenarios were significantly different from the S-6 (the ideal case). This observation highlights the importance of explicitly describing the G and Ω functions to adequately depict canopy illumination conditions.


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Copyright information

© ISB 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.INRAUR 1263 EPHYSE, F-33140 Villenave d’Ornon, Centre INRA BordeauxAquitaineFrance

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