The Fraction of Absorbed Photosynthetically Active Radiation (FAPAR, sometimes also noted fAPAR or fPAR) is the fraction of the incoming solar radiation in the Photosynthetically Active Radiation spectral region that is absorbed by a photosynthetic organism, typically describing the light absoprtion across an integrated plant canopy. This biophysical variable is directly related to the primary productivity of photosynthesis and some models use it to estimate the assimilation of carbon dioxide in vegetation.
FAPAR can be derived from space measurements in the solar spectral range and a number of state of the art algorithms have been proposed to estimate this important environmental variable. FAPAR can also be used as an indicator of the state and evolution of the vegetation cover; with this function, it advantageously replaces the Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI), provided it is itself properly estimated. Currently, there are some remote sensing products of FAPAR, such as AVHRR and MODIS.
FAPAR is one of the 50 Essential Climate Variables recognized by the UN Global Climate Observing System (GCOS) as necessary to characterize the climate of the Earth. GCOS has issued specific recommendations to monitor this variable systematically, both through a reanalysis of existing databases and in the future with current and forthcoming instruments.