Evaluation of MODIS and NOAA AVHRR vegetation indices with in situ measurements in a semi-arid environment

Rasmus Fensholt, Inge Sandholt

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


Much effort has been made in recent years to improve the spectral and spatial resolution of satellite sensors to develop improved vegetation indices reflecting surface conditions. In this study satellite vegetation indices from the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) and the Advanced Very High Resolution Radiometer (AVHRR) are evaluated against two years of in situ measurements of vegetation indices in Senegal. The in situ measurements are obtained using four masts equipped with self-registrating multispectral radiometers designed for the same wavelengths as the satellite sensor channels. In situ measurements of the MODIS Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI) and AVHRR NDVI are equally sensitive to vegetation; however, the MODIS NDVI is consistently higher than the AVHRR NDVI. The MODIS Enhanced Vegetation Index (EVI) proved more sensitive to dense vegetation than both AVHRR NDVI and MODIS NDVI. EVI and NDVI based on the MODIS 16-day constrained view angle maximum value composite (CV-MVC) product captured the seasonal dynamics of the field observations satisfactorily but a standard 16-day MVC product estimated from the daily MODIS surface reflectance data without view angle constraints yielded higher correlations between the satellite indices and field measurements (R-2 values ranging from 0.74 to 0.98). The standard MVC regressions furthermore approach a 1 : I line with in situ measured values compared to the CV-MVC regressions. The 16-day MVC AVHRR data did not satisfactorily reflect the variation in the in situ data. Seasonal variation in the in situ measurements is captured reasonably with R-2 values of 0.75 in 2001 and 0.64 in 2002, but the dynamic range of the AVHRR satellite data is very low-about a third to a half of the values from in situ measurements. Consequently the in situ vegetation indices were emulated much better by the MODIS indices than by the AVHRR NDVI.
Original languageEnglish
JournalInternational Journal of Remote Sensing
Issue number12
Pages (from-to)2561-2594
Publication statusPublished - 2005
Externally publishedYes

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