Climate change is heavily impacted by changing vegetation cover and productivity with large scale monitoring of vegetation only possible with remote sensing techniques. The goal of this effort was to evaluate existing reflectance (R) spectroscopic methods for determining vegetation parameters related to photosynthetic function and carbon (C) dynamics in plants. Since nitrogen (N) is a key constituent of photosynthetic pigments and C fixing enzymes, biological C sequestration is regulated in part by N availability. Spectral R information was obtained from field corn grown at four N application rates (0, 70, 140, 280 kg N/ha). A hierarchy of spectral observations were obtained: leaf and canopy with a spectral radiometer; aircraft with the AISA sensor; and satellite with EO-1 Hyperion. A number of spectral R indices were calculated from these hyperspectral observations and compared to geo-located biophysical measures of plant growth and physiological condition. Top performing indices included the R derivative index D730/D705 and the normalized difference of R750 vs. R705 (ND705), both of which differentiated three of the four N fertilization rates at multiple observation levels and yielded high correlations to these carbon parameters: light use efficiency (LUE); C:N ratio; and crop grain yield. These results advocate the use of hyperspectral sensors for remotely monitoring carbon cycle dynamics in managed terrestrial ecosystems.