The effects of high soil CO2 concentrations on leaf reflectance of maize plants

M. F. Noomen*, A. K. Skidmore

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

51 Citations (Scopus)


Carbon dioxide gas at higher concentrations is known to kill vegetation and can also lead to asphyxiation in humans and animals. The objective of this study is to test whether soil CO2 concentrations ranging from 2% to 50% can be detected using vegetative spectral reflectance. A greenhouse experiment was performed to measure the reflectance of maize plants growing in soil contaminated with high concentrations of CO2. The correlation between leaf chlorophyll and reflectance in both the red edge and the yellow region was studied using different methods. The method that resulted in the strongest correlation between leaf reflectance and chlorophyll was subsequently used to study the effects of CO2 on plant health. The results showed that the method developed by Cho and Skidmore (2006) was the most accurate in predicting leaf chlorophyll (R2 of 0.72). This index in combination with a new index proposed in this study - named the yellow edge position or YEP - showed that an increase in CO2 concentration corresponds to a decrease in leaf chlorophyll. Two first derivative water absorption features at 1400 and 1900 nm indicate that a concentration of 50% CO2 decreased leaf water content. Although upscaling to canopy reflectance is necessary, this experiment shows that leaf reflectance can be used to detect high soil CO2 concentrations, particularly halfway through the growing season.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)481-497
Number of pages17
JournalInternational Journal of Remote Sensing
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 20 Jan 2009
Externally publishedYes


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