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The present study investigated the utility of Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS)-derived sPRI (scaled photochemical reflectance index) and its relationship to photosynthetic light-use efficiency (LUE) calculated from eddy covariance tower data. The analysis was performed over two consecutive years (2003–2004) in a Mediterranean Quercus cerris L. forest site in Italy. Temperature and rainfall conditions differed markedly over the study period, with 2003 being a notable drought year and 2004 a non-drought year. MODIS ocean bands 11 (centred at 531 nm) and 12 (centred at 551 nm) were used for calculating sPRI. LUE exhibited substantial variability within 2003 and 2004, and a moderate relationship between MODIS-sPRI and LUE was observed during the wet year, and for backscattering scenes. This demonstrated the capacity of sPRI to detect xanthophyll cycle activation by vegetation during high light conditions. However, our results show that sPRI should be used with care, particularly under severe water stress conditions, when an increased influence of confounding factors, such canopy structure, illumination, and viewing angles, is observed.
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