Improved SIFTER v2 algorithm for long-term GOME-2A satellite retrievals of fluorescence with a correction for instrument degradation

Erik Van Schaik, Maurits L. Kooreman, Piet Stammes, L. Gijsbert Tilstra, Olaf N.E. Tuinder, Abram F.J. Sanders, Willem W. Verstraeten, Rudiger Lang, Alessandra Cacciari, Joanna Joiner, Wouter Peters, Folkert Boersma*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

12 Citations (Scopus)


Solar-induced fluorescence (SIF) data from satellites are increasingly used as a proxy for photosynthetic activity by vegetation and as a constraint on gross primary production. Here we report on improvements in the algorithm to retrieve mid-morning (09:30 LT) SIF estimates on the global scale from the GOME-2 sensor on the MetOp-A satellite (GOME-2A) for the period 2007-2019. Our new SIFTER (Sun-Induced Fluorescence of Terrestrial Ecosystems Retrieval) v2 algorithm improves over a previous version by using a narrower spectral window that avoids strong oxygen absorption and being less sensitive to water vapour absorption, by constructing stable reference spectra from a 6-year period (2007-2012) of atmospheric spectra over the Sahara and by applying a latitude-dependent zero-level adjustment that accounts for biases in the data product. We generated stable, good-quality SIF retrievals between January 2007 and June 2013, when GOME-2A degradation in the near infrared was still limited. After the narrowing of the GOME-2A swath in July 2013, we characterised the throughput degradation of the level-1 data in order to derive reflectance corrections and apply these for the SIF retrievals between July 2013 and December 2018. SIFTER v2 data compare well with the independent NASA v2.8 data product. Especially in the evergreen tropics, SIFTER v2 no longer shows the underestimates against other satellite products that were seen in SIFTER v1. The new data product includes uncertainty estimates for individual observations and is best used for mostly clear-sky scenes and when spectral residuals remain below a certain spectral autocorrelation threshold. Our results support the use of SIFTER v2 data being used as an independent constraint on photosynthetic activity on regional to global scales.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4295-4315
Number of pages21
JournalAtmospheric Measurement Techniques
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 14 Aug 2020


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