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Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.


Amazon forests play an important role in the global carbon cycle and Earth's climate. The vulnerability of Amazon forests to drought remains highly controversial. Here we examine the impacts of the 2015 drought on the photosynthesis of Amazon forests to understand how solar radiation and precipitation jointly control forest photosynthesis during the severe drought. We use a variety of gridded vegetation and climate datasets, including solar-induced chlorophyll fluorescence (SIF), photosynthetic active radiation (PAR), the fraction of absorbed PAR (APAR), leaf area index (LAI), precipitation, soil moisture, cloud cover, and vapor pressure deficit (VPD) in our analysis. Satellite-derived SIF observations provide a direct diagnosis of plant photosynthesis from space. The decomposition of SIF to SIF yield (SIFyield) and APAR (the product of PAR and fPAR) reveals the relative effects of precipitation and solar radiation on photosynthesis. We found that the drought significantly reduced SIFyield, the emitted SIF per photon absorbed. The higher APAR resulting from lower cloud cover and higher LAI partly offset the negative effects of water stress on the photosynthesis of Amazon forests, leading to a smaller reduction in SIF than in SIFyield and precipitation. We further found that SIFyield anomalies were more sensitive to precipitation and VPD anomalies in the southern regions of the Amazon than in the central and northern regions. Our findings shed light on the relative and combined effects of precipitation and solar radiation on photosynthesis, and can improve our understanding of the responses of Amazon forests to drought.


Earth Systems Research Center

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Environmental Research Letters


Institute of Physics (IOP)

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c 2018 IOP Publishing Ltd.


This is an article published by Institute of Physics (IOP) in Environmental Research Letters in 2018, available online: