Saturday, January 3, 2009

Photosynthetically Active Radiation


The expression Photosynthetically Active Radiation, often abbreviated PAR, designates the spectral range of solar light from 400 to 700 nanometers that is useful to terrestrial plants in the process of photosynthesis. This spectral region corresponds more or less with the range of light visible to the human eye. Photons at shorter wavelengths tend to be so energetic that they can be damaging to cells and tissues; fortunately they are mostly filtered out by the ozone layer in the stratosphere. Photons at longer wavelengths do not carry enough energy to allow photosynthesis to take place, and plants have developed, through billions of years of evolution, the capacity to scatter these photons away, hence the very high reflectance and transmittance of live green leaves.