Development of vegetation and soil indices for MODIS-EOS

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Journal Article
Remote Sensing of Environment, 1994, 49 (3), pp. 224 - 234
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One of the primary interests of the NASA Earth Observing System (EOS) program is to study the role of vegetation in biospheric processes. Currently, the normalized difference vegetation index (NDVI) is utilized to study and monitor vegetation activity on an operational basis at global scales. Recently developed variants to the NDVI equation, based on improved knowledge of atmosphere, canopy background, and sensor-view geometry, are being considered for use with the EOS Moderate-Resolution Imaging Spectrometer (MODIS) sensor. A set of criteria is established to evaluate their performance with respect to the vegetation signal and atmospheric and soil sources of noise. These include the vegetation signal-to-noise ratio (S/N), % relative error, and vegetation equivalent noise (VEN), which form the basis for the evaluation and comparison of vegetation indices (VIs) across a wide range in vegetation covers. The NDVI variant equations outperformed the NDVI by minimizing atmospheric and/or soil background sources of contamination as well as increasing vegetation signal sensitivity. Preliminary estimates, based on the data sets tested here, indicate an overall level of uncertainty of ± 0.4 LAI (≈ 15% cover) with the use of the soil adjusted and atmospherically resistant vegetation index (SARVI), compared with ± 0.8 LAI (30% cover) for the NDVI. Eventually, the final evaluation and validation of VIs for MODIS will include a field campaign strategy, simulation studies, and a worldwide establishment of test sites that collectively cover a diverse range of biomes. Lastly, the retrieval of canopy biophysical information from these VIs are discussed. © 1994.
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