A spectral analysis of 25 boreal tree species

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Spectral libraries have a fundamental role in the development of interpretation methods for airborne and satellite-borne remote sensing data. This paper presents to-date the largest spectral measurement campaign of boreal tree species. Reflectance and transmittance spectra of over 600 leaf and needle samples from 25 species were measured in the Helsinki area (Finland) using integrating sphere systems attached to an ASD FieldSpec 4 spectroradiometer. Factors influencing the spectra and red edge inflection point (REIP) were quantified using one-way analysis of variance. Tree species differed most in the shortwave-infrared (1500–2500 nm) and least in the visible (400–700 nm) wavelength region. Species belonging to same genera showed similar spectral characteristics. Upper (adaxial) and lower (abaxial) leaf sides differed most in the visible region. Canopy position (sunlit/shaded) had a minor role in explaining spectral variation. For evergreen conifers, current and previous year needles differed in their spectra, current-year needles resembling those of broadleaved and deciduous conifers. Two broadleaved species were monitored throughout the growing season (May–October), and two conifers were measured twice during summer (June, September). Rapid changes were observed in the spectra in early spring and late autumn, whereas seasonal variations during summer months were relatively small for both broadleaved and coniferous species. Based on our results, shortwave-infrared seems promising in separating tree species, although it is to-date least studied. The spectral library reported here (Version 1.0) is publicly available through the SPECCHIO Spectral Information System.
Original languageEnglish
Article number7753
Number of pages16
JournalSilva Fennica
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 12 Sep 2017
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


  • leaf
  • needle
  • reflectance
  • transmittance
  • albedo
  • integrating sphere
  • spectrometer


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