Modeling Canopy Photosynthesis

  • Kouki Hikosaka
  • Tomo’omi Kumagai
  • Akihiko Ito
Part of the Advances in Photosynthesis and Respiration book series (AIPH, volume 42)


Canopy photosynthesis models (CPMs) calculate canopy photosynthetic rate as a sum of leaf photosynthetic rate. Here we focus on one-dimensional CPMs and show that simulated rates of canopy photosynthesis vary depending on whether multiple layers or a monolayer are considered and on whether direct and diffuse light sources are considered. We discuss how canopy photosynthetic rates vary depending on plant traits, which can differ within and among species; canopy photosynthetic rates are sensitive to leaf area index, light extinction coefficient, leaf photosynthetic capacity (photosynthetic nitrogen use efficiency), and nitrogen allocation between leaves. CPMs can predict exchange rates not only for carbon but also for water and energy. The predicted rates are consistent with observations. Finally, we describe how CPMs have been utilized for vegetation and global studies.


Atmosphere-ecosystem interaction Big-leaf model Canopy photosynthesis Diffuse light Direct light Energy balance Global environmental change Leaf area index Light extinction coefficient Multi-layer model Thermally produced turbulence effect Uncertainty and model validation 

Abbreviations (See Table 9.1 for Parameters in Box 9.2)


Photosynthetic rate




Slope of Vcmax-N relationship


Big-leaf model


Intercellular CO2 partial pressure


Specific heat of air


Canopy photosynthesis model


Zero-plane displacement


Evapotranspiration rate


Vapor pressure


Heat flux into thermal storage




Gross primary production


Sensible heat flux


Absorbed light per unit leaf area


International Biological Programme


Extinction coefficient


Cumulative leaf area index


Light use efficiency


Monin-Obukhov length


Leaf area index


and me Molecular weights of air and water


Multi-layer model under direct-diffuse light


Multi-layer model with simple light extinction


Nitrogen content


Normalized difference vegetation index


Net ecosystem CO2 exchange


Net primary production


Atmospheric pressure


Photosynthetially active photon flux density




Ecosystem respiration


Sun-shade big-leaf model




Wind velocity


Maximum rate of carboxylation




and z0M Roughness lengths for heat and momentum


Psychrometric constant in Eq. 9.6


von Karman constant


Density of air


Heat of vaporization


Convexity of photosynthetic curves


and χM Dimensionless temperature and velocity profiles


X for diffuse light


X for direct light


X for scattering light


X for shade leaf


X for sunlit leaf


Value of X at the top of the canopy


Value of X per ground area



We thank Niels Anten for valuable comments. This work was supported by Grants-in-Aid for Scientific Research on Innovative Areas (Nos. 21114009 and 21114010), by KAKENHI (Nos. 20677001, 25291095, 20323503 and 25660113) and by CREST, JST, Japan.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Kouki Hikosaka
    • 1
    • 2
  • Tomo’omi Kumagai
    • 3
  • Akihiko Ito
    • 4
  1. 1.Graduate School of Life SciencesTohoku UniversitySendaiJapan
  2. 2.CRESTJSTTokyoJapan
  3. 3.Institute for Space-Earth EnvironmentalNagoya UniversityChikusa-kuJapan
  4. 4.National Institute for Environmental StudiesTsukubaJapan

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