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Estimating Urban Gross Primary Productivity at High Spatial Resolution


Gross primary productivity (GPP) is an important metric of ecosystem function and is the primary way carbon is transferred from the atmosphere to the land surface. Remote sensing techniques are commonly used to estimate regional and global GPP for carbon budgets. However, urban areas are typically excluded from such estimates due to a lack of parameters specific to urban vegetation and the modeling challenges that arise in mapping GPP across heterogeneous urban land cover. In this study, we estimated typical midsummer GPP within and among vegetation and land use types in the Minneapolis-Saint Paul, Minnesota metropolitan region by deriving light use efficiency parameters specific to urban vegetation types using in situ flux observations and WorldView-2 high spatial resolution satellite imagery. We produced a land cover classification using the satellite imagery, canopy height data from airborne lidar, and leaf-off color-infrared aerial orthophotos, and used regional GIS layers to mask certain land cover/land use types. The classification for built-up and vegetated urban land cover classes distinguished deciduous trees, evergreen trees, turf grass, and golf grass from impervious and soil surfaces, with an overall classification accuracy of 80% (kappa = 0.73). The full study area had 52.1% vegetation cover. The light use efficiency for each vegetation class, with the exception of golf grass, tended to be low compared to natural vegetation light use efficiencies in the literature. The mapped GPP estimates were within 11% of estimates from independent tall tower eddy covariance measurements. The order of the mapped vegetation classes for the full study area in terms of mean GPP from lowest to highest was: deciduous trees (2.52 gC m-2 d-1), evergreen trees (5.81 gC m-2 d-1), turf grass (6.05 gC m-2 d-1), and golf grass (11.77 gC m-2 d-1). Turf grass GPP had a larger coefficient of variation (0.18) than the other vegetation classes (~0.10). Mean land use GPP for the full study area varied as a function of percent vegetation cover. Urban GPP in general, both including and excluding non-vegetated areas, tended to be low relative to natural forests and grasslands. Our results demonstrate that, at the scale of neighborhoods and city blocks within heterogeneous urban landscapes, high spatial resolution GPP estimates are valuable to develop comparisons such as within and among vegetation cover classes and land use types.

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