• Carbon flux;
  • Digital image;
  • HSL;
  • Hue;
  • Leaf phenology;
  • Quercus robur ;
  • red, green and blue;
  • Vegetation index


  1. Carbon dioxide flux measurements using the eddy covariance (EC) methodology have helped researchers to develop models of ecosystem carbon balance. However, making reliable predictions of carbon fluxes is not straightforward due to phenological changes and possible abiotic/biotic stresses that profoundly influence tree functioning.
  2. To assess the influence of canopy phenological state on CO2 flux, we installed two different digital camera systems at different viewing angles (an outdoor webcam with a near-horizontal view and a commercial ‘fisheye’ digital camera with a downward view) on a flux measurement tower in southern England and tracked the visual change of the canopy in this oak-dominated (Quercus robur L.) forest over two growing seasons.
  3. Changes in the setting of the camera's white balance substantially affected the quality of the webcam images. However, the timing of the onset of greening and senescence was, nevertheless, detectable for the individual trees as well as the overall canopy for both years. The greening-up date assessed from the downward images from a hemispherical lens was ∼5 days earlier than from the horizontal-view images, because of ground vegetation development (not visible in the horizontal view).
  4. The effects of a late air frost in 2010 were evident in the canopy greenness, and these led to reductions in daily gross primary productivity (GPP). The cameras recorded differences between individual tree crowns, showing their different responses to the late frost.
  5. A major new finding from this work is the strong relationship between GPP and Hue, which was stronger than the relationship between GPP and NDVI.