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Terrestrial photosynthesis is the largest and one of the most uncertain fluxes in the global carbon cycle. We find that NIRv, a remotely sensed measure of canopy structure, accurately predicts photosynthesis at FLUXNET validation sites at monthly to annual timescales (R2 = 0.68), without the need for difficult to acquire information about environmental factors that constrain photosynthesis at short timescales. Scaling the relationship between GPP and NIRv from FLUXNET eddy covariance sites, we estimate global annual terrestrial photosynthesis to be 147 Pg C y-1 (95% credible interval 131-163 Pg C y-1), which falls between bottom-up GPP estimates and the top-down global constraint on GPP from oxygen isotopes. NIRv-derived estimates of GPP are systematically higher than existing bottom-up estimates, especially throughout the mid-latitudes. Progress in improving estimated GPP from NIRv can come from improved cloud-screening in satellite data and increased resolution of vegetation characteristics, especially photosynthetic pathway.
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