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Carbon Balance and Management


Background: A simulation model that relies on satellite observations of vegetation cover from the Landsat 7 sensor and from the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) was used to estimate net primary productivity (NPP) of forest stands at the Bartlett Experiment Forest (BEF) in the White Mountains of New Hampshire.

Results: Net primary production (NPP) predicted from the NASA-CASA model using 30-meter resolution Landsat inputs showed variations related to both vegetation cover type and elevational effects on mean air temperatures. Overall, the highest predicted NPP from the NASA-CASA model was for deciduous forest cover at low to mid-elevation locations over the landscape. Comparison of the model-predicted annual NPP to the plot-estimated values showed a significant correlation of R2 = 0.5. Stepwise addition of 30-meter resolution elevation data values explained no more than 20% of the residual variation in measured NPP patterns at BEF. Both the Landsat 7 and the 250- meter resolution MODIS derived mean annual NPP predictions for the BEF plot locations were within ± 2.5% of the mean of plot estimates for annual NPP.

Conclusion: Although MODIS imagery cannot capture the spatial details of NPP across the network of closely spaced plot locations as well as Landsat, the MODIS satellite data as inputs to the NASA-CASA model does accurately predict the average annual productivity of a site like the BEF.


Published in Carbon Balance and Management by BMC. Available via doi: 10.1186/1750-0680-2-9.

This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.