Khavarian, H; Atkinson, PM; Milton, EJ; Stewart, JB (2013). Validation of the MODIS reflectance product under UK conditions. INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF REMOTE SENSING, 34(20), 7376-7399.
Surface reflectance obtained from remote-sensing data is the main input to almost all remote-sensing applications. The availability and special characteristics of Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) products have led to their use worldwide. Validation of the MODIS reflectance product is then crucial to provid information on uncertainty in the reflectance data, and in other MODIS products and in the applied surface-atmosphere models. Compact Airborne Spectrographic Imager (CASI) and Systeme Pour l'Observation de la Terre (SPOT) data, collected during the Network for Calibration and Validation in Earth Observation (NCAVEO) 2006 Field Campaign, were applied to validate daily MODIS reflectance data over a site in the southern UK. The difference in the view geometry of at-nadir CASI and SPOT data and off-nadir MODIS data was dealt with using a semi-empirical bidirectional reflectance distribution function (BRDF) model. The validation results showed that for our particular study site, the absolute errors in the MODIS reflectance product were too large to allow the albedo data to be used directly in climate models. The errors were mainly related to the uncertainties in the MODIS atmospheric variables, the BRDF model, and undetected clouds and cloud shadows. More generally, the study highlights the extreme difficulty of achieving pixel-level validation of coarse spatial resolution satellite sensor data in an environment in which the atmosphere is constantly changing, and in which the landscape is characterized by high space-time heterogeneity.