PROSPECT + SAIL models: A review of use for vegetation characterization

Stéphane Jacquemoud, Wout Verhoef, Frédéric Baret, Cédric Bacour, Pablo J. Zarco-Tejada, Gregory P. Asner, Christophe François, Susan L. Ustin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1188 Scopus citations


The combined PROSPECT leaf optical properties model and SAIL canopy bidirectional reflectance model, also referred to as PROSAIL, has been used for about sixteen years to study plant canopy spectral and directional reflectance in the solar domain. PROSAIL has also been used to develop new methods for retrieval of vegetation biophysical properties. It links the spectral variation of canopy reflectance, which is mainly related to leaf biochemical contents, with its directional variation, which is primarily related to canopy architecture and soil/vegetation contrast. This link is key to simultaneous estimation of canopy biophysical/structural variables for applications in agriculture, plant physiology, or ecology, at different scales. PROSAIL has become one of the most popular radiative transfer tools due to its ease of use, general robustness, and consistent validation by lab/field/space experiments over the years. However, PROSPECT and SAIL are still evolving: they have undergone recent improvements both at the leaf and the plant levels. This paper provides an extensive review of the PROSAIL developments in the context of canopy biophysics and radiative transfer modeling.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)S56-S66
JournalRemote Sensing of Environment
Issue numberSUPPL. 1
StatePublished - Sep 2009
Externally publishedYes


  • Canopy spectral and directional reflectance
  • Radiative transfer models
  • SAIL
  • Vegetation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Soil Science
  • Geology
  • Computers in Earth Sciences


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