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Amazonia contains vast stores of carbon in high-diversity ecosystems, yet this region undergoes major changes in precipitation affecting land use, carbon dynamics, and climate. The extent and structural complexity of Amazon forests impedes ground studies of ecosystem functions such as net primary production (NPP), water cycling, and carbon sequestration. Traditional modeling and remote-sensing approaches are not well suited to tropical forest studies, because (i) biophysical mechanisms determining drought effects on canopy water and carbon dynamics are poorly known, and (ii) remote-sensing metrics of canopy greenness may be insensitive to small changes in leaf area accompanying drought. New spaceborne imaging spectroscopy may detect drought stress in tropical forests, helping to monitor forest physiology and constrain carbon models. We combined a forest drought experiment in Amazonia with spaceborne imaging spectrometer measurements of this area. With field data on rainfall, soil water, and leaf and canopy responses, we tested whether spaceborne hyperspectral observations quantify differences in canopy water and NIPP resulting from drought stress. We found that hyperspectral metrics of canopy water content and light-use efficiency are highly sensitive to drought. Using these observations, forest NIPP was estimated with greater sensitivity to drought conditions than with traditional combinations of modeling, remote-sensing, and field measurements. Spaceborne imaging spectroscopy will increase the accuracy of ecological studies in humid tropical forests

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