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  1. Urbanization affects vegetation within city administrative boundary and nearby rural areas. Gross primary production (GPP) of vegetation in global urban areas is one of important metrics for assessing the impacts of urbanization on terrestrial ecosystems. To date, very limited data and information on the spatial-temporal dynamics of GPP in the global urban areas are available. In this study, we reported the spatial distribution and temporal dynamics of annual GPP during 2000–2016 from 8,182 gridcells (0.5° by 0.5° latitude and longitude) that have various proportion of urban areas. Approximately 79.3% of these urban gridcells had increasing trends of annual GPP during 2000-2016. As urban area proportion (%) within individual urban gridcells increased, the means of annual GPP trends also increased. Our results suggested that for those urban gridcells, the negative effect of urban expansion (often measured by impervious surfaces) on GPP was to large degree compensated by increased vegetation within the gridcells, mostly driven by urban management and local climate and environment. Our findings on the continued increases of annual GPP in most of urban gridcells shed new insight on the importance of urban areas on terrestrial carbon cycle and the potential of urban management and local climate and environment on improving vegetation in urban areas. 
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  2. Abstract

    A frequently expressed viewpoint across the Earth science community is that global soil moisture estimates from satellite L‐band (1.4 GHz) measurements represent moisture only in a shallow surface layer (0–5 cm) and consequently are of limited value for studying global terrestrial ecosystems because plants use water from deeper rootzones. Using this argumentation, many observation‐based land surface studies avoid satellite‐observed soil moisture. Here, based on peer‐reviewed literature across several fields, we argue that such a viewpoint is overly limiting for two reasons. First, microwave soil emission depth considerations and statistical considerations of vertically correlated soil moisture information together indicate that L‐band measurements carry information about soil moisture extending below the commonly referenced 5 cm in many conditions. However, spatial variations of effective depths of representation remain uncertain. Second, in reviewing isotopic tracer field studies of plant water uptake, we find a prevalence of vegetation that primarily draws moisture from these upper soil layers. This is especially true for grasslands and croplands covering more than a third of global vegetated surfaces. Even some deeper‐rooted species (i.e., shrubs and trees) preferentially or seasonally draw water from the upper soil layers. Therefore, L‐band satellite soil moisture estimates are more relevant to global vegetation water uptake than commonly appreciated (i.e., relevant beyond only shallow soil processes like soil evaporation). Our commentary encourages the application of satellite soil moisture across a broader range of terrestrial hydrosphere and biosphere studies while urging more rigorous estimates of its effective depth of representation.

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  3. Abstract

    Solar‐induced chlorophyll fluorescence (SIF) is a remotely sensed optical signal emitted during the light reactions of photosynthesis. The past two decades have witnessed an explosion in availability of SIF data at increasingly higher spatial and temporal resolutions, sparking applications in diverse research sectors (e.g., ecology, agriculture, hydrology, climate, and socioeconomics). These applications must deal with complexities caused by tremendous variations in scale and the impacts of interacting and superimposing plant physiology and three‐dimensional vegetation structure on the emission and scattering of SIF. At present, these complexities have not been overcome. To advance future research, the two companion reviews aim to (1) develop an analytical framework for inferring terrestrial vegetation structures and function that are tied to SIF emission, (2) synthesize progress and identify challenges in SIF research via the lens of multi‐sector applications, and (3) map out actionable solutions to tackle these challenges and offer our vision for research priorities over the next 5–10 years based on the proposed analytical framework. This paper is the first of the two companion reviews, and theory oriented. It introduces a theoretically rigorous yet practically applicable analytical framework. Guided by this framework, we offer theoretical perspectives on three overarching questions: (1)The forward (mechanism) question—How are the dynamics of SIF affected by terrestrial ecosystem structure and function? (2)The inference question: What aspects of terrestrial ecosystem structure, function, and service can be reliably inferred from remotely sensed SIF and how? (3)The innovation question: What innovations are needed to realize the full potential of SIF remote sensing for real‐world applications under climate change? The analytical framework elucidates that process complexity must be appreciated in inferring ecosystem structure and function from the observed SIF; this framework can serve as a diagnosis and inference tool for versatile applications across diverse spatial and temporal scales.

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  4. Abstract

    Although our observing capabilities of solar‐induced chlorophyll fluorescence (SIF) have been growing rapidly, the quality and consistency of SIF datasets are still in an active stage of research and development. As a result, there are considerable inconsistencies among diverse SIF datasets at all scales and the widespread applications of them have led to contradictory findings. The present review is the second of the two companion reviews, and data oriented. It aims to (1) synthesize the variety, scale, and uncertainty of existing SIF datasets, (2) synthesize the diverse applications in the sector of ecology, agriculture, hydrology, climate, and socioeconomics, and (3) clarify how such data inconsistency superimposed with the theoretical complexities laid out in (Sun et al., 2023) may impact process interpretation of various applications and contribute to inconsistent findings. We emphasize that accurate interpretation of the functional relationships between SIF and other ecological indicators is contingent upon complete understanding of SIF data quality and uncertainty. Biases and uncertainties in SIF observations can significantly confound interpretation of their relationships and how such relationships respond to environmental variations. Built upon our syntheses, we summarize existing gaps and uncertainties in current SIF observations. Further, we offer our perspectives on innovations needed to help improve informing ecosystem structure, function, and service under climate change, including enhancing in‐situ SIF observing capability especially in “data desert” regions, improving cross‐instrument data standardization and network coordination, and advancing applications by fully harnessing theory and data.

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