skip to main content

Title: Validation of Space-Based Albedo Products from Upscaled Tower-Based Measurements Over Heterogeneous and Homogeneous Landscapes
Surface albedo is a fundamental radiative parameter as it controls the Earth’s energy budget and directly affects the Earth’s climate. Satellite observations have long been used to capture the temporal and spatial variations of surface albedo because of their continuous global coverage. However, space-based albedo products are often affected by errors in the atmospheric correction, multi-angular bi-directional reflectance distribution function (BRDF) modelling, as well as spectral conversions. To validate space-based albedo products, an in situ tower albedometer is often used to provide continuous “ground truth” measurements of surface albedo over an extended area. Since space-based albedo and tower-measured albedo are produced at different spatial scales, they can be directly compared only for specific homogeneous land surfaces. However, most land surfaces are inherently heterogeneous with surface properties that vary over a wide range of spatial scales. In this work, tower-measured albedo products, including both directional hemispherical reflectance (DHR) and bi-hemispherical reflectance (BHR), are upscaled to coarse satellite spatial resolutions using a new method. This strategy uses high-resolution satellite derived surface albedos to fill the gaps between the albedometer’s field-of-view (FoV) and coarse satellite scales. The high-resolution surface albedo is generated from a combination of surface reflectance retrieved from high-resolution Earth Observation more » (HR-EO) data and moderate resolution imaging spectroradiometer (MODIS) BRDF climatology over a larger area. We implemented a recently developed atmospheric correction method, the Sensor Invariant Atmospheric Correction (SIAC), to retrieve surface reflectance from HR-EO (e.g., Sentinel-2 and Landsat-8) top-of-atmosphere (TOA) reflectance measurements. This SIAC processing provides an estimated uncertainty for the retrieved surface spectral reflectance at the HR-EO pixel level and shows excellent agreement with the standard Landsat 8 Surface Reflectance Code (LaSRC) in retrieving Landsat-8 surface reflectance. Atmospheric correction of Sentinel-2 data is vastly improved by SIAC when compared against the use of in situ AErosol RObotic NETwork (AERONET) data. Based on this, we can trace the uncertainty of tower-measured albedo during its propagation through high-resolution EO measurements up to coarse satellite scales. These upscaled albedo products can then be compared with space-based albedo products over heterogeneous land surfaces. In this study, both tower-measured albedo and upscaled albedo products are examined at Ground Based Observation for Validation (GbOV) stations (, and used to compare with satellite observations, including Copernicus Global Land Service (CGLS) based on ProbaV and VEGETATION 2 data, MODIS and multi-angle imaging spectroradiometer (MISR). « less
; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ;
Award ID(s):
Publication Date:
Journal Name:
Remote Sensing
Page Range or eLocation-ID:
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
More Like this
  1. Surface albedo is of crucial interest in land–climate interaction studies, since it is a key parameter that affects the Earth’s radiation budget. The temporal and spatial variation of surface albedo can be retrieved from conventional satellite observations after a series of processes, including atmospheric correction to surface spectral bi-directional reflectance factor (BRF), bi-directional reflectance distribution function (BRDF) modelling using these BRFs, and, where required, narrow-to-broadband albedo conversions. This processing chain introduces errors that can be accumulated and then affect the accuracy of the retrieved albedo products. In this study, the albedo products derived from the multi-angle imaging spectroradiometer (MISR), moderate resolution imaging spectroradiometer (MODIS) and the Copernicus Global Land Service (CGLS), based on the VEGETATION and now the PROBA-V sensors, are compared with albedometer and upscaled in situ measurements from 19 tower sites from the FLUXNET network, surface radiation budget network (SURFRAD) and Baseline Surface Radiation Network (BSRN) networks. The MISR sensor onboard the Terra satellite has 9 cameras at different view angles, which allows a near-simultaneous retrieval of surface albedo. Using a 16-day retrieval algorithm, the MODIS generates the daily albedo products (MCD43A) at a 500-m resolution. The CGLS albedo products are derived from the VEGETATION and PROBA-V, andmore »updated every 10 days using a weighted 30-day window. We describe a newly developed method to derive the two types of albedo, which are directional hemispherical reflectance (DHR) and bi-hemispherical reflectance (BHR), directly from three tower-measured variables of shortwave radiation: downwelling, upwelling and diffuse shortwave radiation. In the validation process, the MISR, MODIS and CGLS-derived albedos (DHR and BHR) are first compared with tower measured albedos, using pixel-to-point analysis, between 2012 to 2016. The tower measured point albedos are then upscaled to coarse-resolution albedos, based on atmospherically corrected BRFs from high-resolution Earth observation (HR-EO) data, alongside MODIS BRDF climatology from a larger area. Then a pixel-to-pixel comparison is performed between DHR and BHR retrieved from coarse-resolution satellite observations and DHR and BHR upscaled from accurate tower measurements. The experimental results are presented on exploring the parameter space associated with land cover type, heterogeneous vs. homogeneous and instantaneous vs. time composite retrievals of surface albedo.« less
  2. Ocean colour is recognised as an Essential Climate Variable (ECV) by the Global Climate Observing System (GCOS); and spectrally-resolved water-leaving radiances (or remote-sensing reflectances) in the visible domain, and chlorophyll-a concentration are identified as required ECV products. Time series of the products at the global scale and at high spatial resolution, derived from ocean-colour data, are key to studying the dynamics of phytoplankton at seasonal and inter-annual scales; their role in marine biogeochemistry; the global carbon cycle; the modulation of how phytoplankton distribute solar-induced heat in the upper layers of the ocean; and the response of the marine ecosystem to climate variability and change. However, generating a long time series of these products from ocean-colour data is not a trivial task: algorithms that are best suited for climate studies have to be selected from a number that are available for atmospheric correction of the satellite signal and for retrieval of chlorophyll-a concentration; since satellites have a finite life span, data from multiple sensors have to be merged to create a single time series, and any uncorrected inter-sensor biases could introduce artefacts in the series, e.g., different sensors monitor radiances at different wavebands such that producing a consistent time series ofmore »reflectances is not straightforward. Another requirement is that the products have to be validated against in situ observations. Furthermore, the uncertainties in the products have to be quantified, ideally on a pixel-by-pixel basis, to facilitate applications and interpretations that are consistent with the quality of the data. This paper outlines an approach that was adopted for generating an ocean-colour time series for climate studies, using data from the MERIS (MEdium spectral Resolution Imaging Spectrometer) sensor of the European Space Agency; the SeaWiFS (Sea-viewing Wide-Field-of-view Sensor) and MODIS-Aqua (Moderate-resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer-Aqua) sensors from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (USA); and VIIRS (Visible and Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite) from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (USA). The time series now covers the period from late 1997 to end of 2018. To ensure that the products meet, as well as possible, the requirements of the user community, marine-ecosystem modellers, and remote-sensing scientists were consulted at the outset on their immediate and longer-term requirements as well as on their expectations of ocean-colour data for use in climate research. Taking the user requirements into account, a series of objective criteria were established, against which available algorithms for processing ocean-colour data were evaluated and ranked. The algorithms that performed best with respect to the climate user requirements were selected to process data from the satellite sensors. Remote-sensing reflectance data from MODIS-Aqua, MERIS, and VIIRS were band-shifted to match the wavebands of SeaWiFS. Overlapping data were used to correct for mean biases between sensors at every pixel. The remote-sensing reflectance data derived from the sensors were merged, and the selected in-water algorithm was applied to the merged data to generate maps of chlorophyll concentration, inherent optical properties at SeaWiFS wavelengths, and the diffuse attenuation coefficient at 490 nm. The merged products were validated against in situ observations. The uncertainties established on the basis of comparisons with in situ data were combined with an optical classification of the remote-sensing reflectance data using a fuzzy-logic approach, and were used to generate uncertainties (root mean square difference and bias) for each product at each pixel.« less
  3. The surface urban heat island (SUHI), which represents the difference of land surface temperature (LST) in urban relativity to neighboring non-urban surfaces, is usually measured using satellite LST data. Over the last few decades, advancements of remote sensing along with spatial science have considerably increased the number and quality of SUHI studies that form the major body of the urban heat island (UHI) literature. This paper provides a systematic review of satellite-based SUHI studies, from their origin in 1972 to the present. We find an exponentially increasing trend of SUHI research since 2005, with clear preferences for geographic areas, time of day, seasons, research foci, and platforms/sensors. The most frequently studied region and time period of research are China and summer daytime, respectively. Nearly two-thirds of the studies focus on the SUHI/LST variability at a local scale. The Landsat Thematic Mapper (TM)/Enhanced Thematic Mapper (ETM+)/Thermal Infrared Sensor (TIRS) and Terra/Aqua Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) are the two most commonly-used satellite sensors and account for about 78% of the total publications. We systematically reviewed the main satellite/sensors, methods, key findings, and challenges of the SUHI research. Previous studies confirm that the large spatial (local to global scales) and temporal (diurnal,more »seasonal, and inter-annual) variations of SUHI are contributed by a variety of factors such as impervious surface area, vegetation cover, landscape structure, albedo, and climate. However, applications of SUHI research are largely impeded by a series of data and methodological limitations. Lastly, we propose key potential directions and opportunities for future efforts. Besides improving the quality and quantity of LST data, more attention should be focused on understudied regions/cities, methods to examine SUHI intensity, inter-annual variability and long-term trends of SUHI, scaling issues of SUHI, the relationship between surface and subsurface UHIs, and the integration of remote sensing with field observations and numeric modeling.« less
  4. Abstract. Canopy radiative transfer is the primary mechanism by which models relate vegetation composition and state to the surface energy balance, which is important to light- and temperature-sensitive plant processes as well as understanding land–atmosphere feedbacks.In addition, certain parameters (e.g., specific leaf area, SLA) that have an outsized influence on vegetation model behavior can be constrained by observations of shortwave reflectance, thus reducing model predictive uncertainty.Importantly, calibrating against radiative transfer outputs allows models to directly use remote sensing reflectance products without relying on highly derived products (such as MODIS leaf area index) whose assumptions may be incompatible with the target vegetation model and whose uncertainties are usually not well quantified.Here, we created the EDR model by coupling the two-stream representation of canopy radiative transfer in the Ecosystem Demography model version 2 (ED2) with a leaf radiative transfer model (PROSPECT-5) and a simple soil reflectance model to predict full-range, high-spectral-resolution surface reflectance that is dependent on the underlying ED2 model state.We then calibrated this model against estimates of hemispherical reflectance (corrected for directional effects) from the NASA Airborne Visible/Infrared Imaging Spectrometer (AVIRIS) and survey data from 54 temperate forest plots in the northeastern United States.The calibration significantly reduced uncertainty in modelmore »parameters related to leaf biochemistry and morphology and canopy structure for five plant functional types.Using a single common set of parameters across all sites, the calibrated model was able to accurately reproduce surface reflectance for sites with highly varied forest composition and structure.However, the calibrated model's predictions of leaf area index (LAI) were less robust, capturing only 46 % of the variability in the observations.Comparing the ED2 radiative transfer model with another two-stream soil–leaf–canopy radiative transfer model commonly used in remote sensing studies (PRO4SAIL) illustrated structural errors in the ED2 representation of direct radiation backscatter that resulted in systematic underestimation of reflectance.In addition, we also highlight that, to directly compare with a two-stream radiative transfer model like EDR, we had to perform an additional processing step to convert the directional reflectance estimates of AVIRIS to hemispherical reflectance (also known as “albedo”).In future work, we recommend that vegetation models add the capability to predict directional reflectance, to allow them to more directly assimilate a wide range of airborne and satellite reflectance products.We ultimately conclude that despite these challenges, using dynamic vegetation models to predict surface reflectance is a promising avenue for model calibration and validation using remote sensing data.« less
  5. Land surface temperature (LST) is an important input to the Atmosphere–Land Exchange Inverse (ALEXI) model to derive the Evaporative Stress Index (ESI) for drought monitoring. Currently, LST inputs to the ALEXI model come from the Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite (GOES) and Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) products, but clouds affect them. While passive microwave (e.g., AMSR-E and AMSR-2) sensors can penetrate non-rainy clouds and observe the Earth’s surface, but usually with a coarse spatial resolution, how to utilize multiple instruments’ advantages is an important methodology in remote sensing. In this study, we developed a new five-channel algorithm to derive LST from the microwave AMSR-E and AMSR-2 measurements and calibrate to the MODIS and GOES LST products. A machine learning method is implemented to further improve its performance. The MODIS and GOES LST products still show better performance than the AMSR-E and AMSR-2 LSTs when evaluated against the ground observations. Therefore, microwave LSTs are only used to fill the gaps due to clouds in the MODIS and GOES LST products. A gap filling method is further applied to fill the remaining gaps in the merged LSTs and downscale to the same spatial resolution as the MODIS and GOES products. With themore »daily integrated LST at the same spatial resolution as the MODIS and GOES products and available under nearly all sky conditions, the drought index, like the ESI, can be updated on daily basis. The initial implementation results demonstrate that the daily drought map can catch the fast changes of drought conditions and capture the signals of flash drought, and make flash drought monitoring become possible. It is expected that a drought map that is available on daily basis will benefit future drought monitoring.« less