Tony Gill1,2, Neil Flood1,2, Sam Gillingham1,3, Tim Danaher1,4, James Shepherd5, John Dymond5 1. Joint Remote Sensing Research Program. 2. University of Queensland. School of Geography, Planning and Environmental Management, St Lucia, QLD, 4072. 3. Queensland Department of Environment and Resource Management. 80 Meiers Road, Indooroopilly, QLD, 4068 4. New South Wales Department of Environment, Climate Change and Water. PO Box 856, Alstonville, New South Wales, 2477. 5. Land Care Research. Private Bag 11052, Palmerston North, 4442,New Zealand. Abstract Operational monitoring of vegetation cover and vegetation cover change over large areas requires the use of satellite sensors that measure radiance reflected from the Earth’s surface. Monitoring programs use multiple images for complete spatial coverage over time. Accurate retrievals of cover and change estimates can be made difficult by variation, in both space and time, in the measured radiance caused by atmospheric conditions, topography, sensor location, and sun elevation. In order to obtain estimates of cover that are comparable between images, and to retrieve accurate estimates of change, these sources of variation must be removed. In this paper we present a preprocessing scheme for minimising atmospheric, topographic and bi-directional reflectance effects on Landsat 5 TM and Landsat 7 ETM+ imagery. The approach involves the following sequence of steps: conversion of image digital numbers to calibrated at-sensor radiances; atmospheric correction to compute surface-leaving radiance; bi-directional reflectance modelling to remove the effects of topography and bi-directional reflectance. The result is surface reflectance standardised to a fixed viewing and illumination geometry. Validation shows that there is a reduction in variation in reflectance for overlapping pixels on adjacent Landsat scenes. Further validation with independently derived estimates of surface reflectance is required. The method was used to process over 15000 Landsat 5 TM and Landsat 7 ETM+ scenes and is therefore operationally viable.


Introduction Large area monitoring of vegetation cover depends on relationships between field observations of cover and the spectral radiance measured by satellite image sensors. These relationships are collectively called vegetation indices, and may be as simple as using the normalised difference vegetation index, or be more complicated multiple regression relationships. The field observations used in the development of the indices for an operational program are collected at a range of locations and at different times of the year in order to capture the variation of cover values across the landscape. Therefore, the location and timing of the acquisition of satellite imagery will vary to match, as closely as possible, the location and timing the field measurements. With the index developed, it is applied to imagery collected at a range of times and locations, for making predictions of vegetation cover. The method is currently used by the Queensland Department of Environment and Resource Management (DERM) and NSW Department of Environment and Climate Change (DECC) for woody vegetation cover and grass cover monitoring. Variation in measured radiance, caused by factors other than variation in vegetation cover, reduces the accuracy of the derived vegetation cover estimates if not accounted for. The factors include differences in the sensor's sensitivity to incoming radiation, atmospheric conditions, and sun and sensor positions. A change in atmospheric conditions and sun and sensor elevations will alter the amount of light scattered and absorbed by the atmosphere. These changes affect both the amount of light illuminating the surface and the amount of light entering the sensor. The topography and land cover vary how light illuminates and is reflected from the surface, and this varies with the relative locations of the sun and the sensor. Assuming the sensor radiometrics are well characterised, as is the case for Landsat-5 TM and Landsat-7 ETM+, then obtaining accurate vegetation cover retrievals from satellite imagery requires reducing the variation caused by atmospheric conditions, topographic and bi-directional reflectance effects. The aim of the work outlined is this paper was to develop a preprocessing scheme for deriving standardised surface reflectance from Landsat imagery. Standardised means reflectance free from topographic and bi-directional effects. The scheme must be simple enough to implement within an operational environment where thousands of images are to be processed. A preliminary analysis of the validation of the scheme is provided. Methods Standardised reflectance The equation used to model the brightness of a sloping surface was (1)

where L is the surface-leaving radiance in the direction of the sensor, and are the surface reflectances in the direction of the sensor for direct and


diffuse irradiance respectively, and and are the direct and diffuse irradiances respectively. All quantities have implied band dependencies, and and are also dependent on altitude. Solving equation 1 requires an estimate of the diffuse reflectance. The direct reflectance is the major contributor to the total signal received by the sensor in most cases, therefore diffuse reflectance was modelled as a multiple, β, of the direct reflectance (Shepherd and Dymond 2003), so that equation 1 becomes (2)

Computing standardised reflectance requires that the sloping surface reflectance be transformed to a value that would be obtained at a standard set of sun and sensor positions relative to the ground topography. We define a correction factor, , as the value that transforms a measured direct , to a predicted (or standardised) direct reflectance, reflectance, (3) By substituting equation 3 into 2 and rearranging, the predicted direct reflectance was computed from measurements of surface radiance, , direct irradiance, , and diffuse irradiance, , as (4)

where is the diffuse reflectance multiple for the measured reflectance. The quantities , , and were obtained from radiative transfer modelling of the atmosphere. The correction factors and were obtained from bidirectional reflectance modelling. The methods that were used to derive these values are described in the next two sections. Atmospheric radiative transfer modelling The atmospheric transfer modelling software, 6S (Vermote et al. 1997), provided estimates of direct and diffuse irradiance onto a horizontal surface, and respectively. 6S also provided estimates of apparent surface reflectance, , from the observed top of atmosphere radiance. The top of atmosphere radiance was obtained from the satellite imagery by applying the supplied gains and offsets to each pixel digital number. The apparent surfaceleaving radiance was computed from 6S as (5)

The total surface radiance onto a sloping surface can be written as


cos cos


where = is the total irradiance onto a horizontal surface; is the incidence angle between the surface normal and the sun vector; is the incidence angle for a horizontal surface (solar zenith angle); Θ is a binary coefficient that is set to zero when the incidence angle is greater than 90 degrees, and set to one otherwise; is a sky-view factor; is a terrain view factor; and is the average reflectance of surrounding pixels (Shepherd and in equation 4, and the Dymond 2003). The first term can be substituted for sum of the second and third terms can be substituted for in equation 4. The sky view factor, , is the proportion of sky visible to a given pixel, relative to a hemisphere of sky which would be visible if no surrounding terrain obstructed the view. The hemisphere can be thought of as having its base aligned with the slope of the pixel. The sky view factor was calculated using the horizon search methods detailed by (Dozier and Frew 1990). For each pixel, the angle to the horizon is found in 16 search directions, and a sky view factor along that azimuth is computed. The sky view factor for the whole hemisphere is approximated as the average of these 16 azimuthal view factors. The terrain view factor, , is assumed to be whatever remains of the hemisphere over the 1 . The sky view factor, , was preslope at that point, thus computed for every pixel, using the Shuttle Radar Topography Mission (SRTM) digital elevation model (DEM). 6S was run for each Landsat scene to be corrected. The model was run at a range of angle combinations, with the resolution of angle change (in radians) being 0.01 for sun zenith, 0.02 for satellite zenith and azimuth, and 0.04 for sun azimuth. 6S was also run for a range of altitudes, for each angle combination, with an altitude step size of 200 m starting at sea level up to the maximum height as indicated by the SRTM. Each pixel is then corrected using the resulting 6S parameters for the nearest corresponding elevation and angles. Table 1 lists the parameters required by 6S and the source of those parameters used for this study. Topographic and bi-directional reflectance modelling The reflectance from a target on the ground varies with both incidence angle and exitance angle (the angle between the surface normal and the view vector). The variation is caused by both topography and the anisotropic nature of how light reflects from the Earth’s surface due to different land cover types. The light reflected from the surface is therefore highly dependent on the incidence and exitance angles, and the phase angle between the incidence and exitance vectors. One combination of incidence, exitance and phase angles results in one possible, bi-directional, reflectance value. An infinite number of combinations results in the bi-directional reflectance distribution function (BRDF) for a surface.


Table 1: The source of the parameters used in atmospheric transfer modelling with 6S.

Parameter Continental aerosol model Ozone

Source 6S (Vermote et al. 1997) TOMS climatology (Ziemke et al. 2006) 1996-2003

Aerosol Optical Depth (AOD) at 550 Fixed at 0.05 nm Precipitable water Daily interpolated vapour pressure point observations (Jeffrey et al. 2001) Pre-calculated Pre-calculated

Solar zenith and azimuth angles View zenith and azimuth angles

We chose to consider the topographic and bi-directional effects together with one model. This implicitly assumes that canopy roughness is the same for both horizontal and inclined surfaces (Dymond and Shepherd 1999). Topographic correction is then correction for the BRDF that slopes, by their nature, introduce. Therefore we seek to obtain the direct and diffuse reflectance correction factors, γ and β, in equation 4, from the BRDF.

One of the challenges of modelling the BRDF of the land surface is that it must be done from a finite number of bi-directional reflectance observations. Ideally, a large number of observations would be obtained for a target over a range of incidence and exitance angles within a very short period of time to reduce the effect of on-ground change. For example, a field spectrometer mounted on a goniometer permits the collection of a large number of bi-directional observations over the course of a day.

Scale differences between field and satellite-measured reflectance results in the need to measure the bi-directional reflectance at the scale that the BRDF model will be used at. For example, the MODIS BRDF product is derived for the Earth’s surface every 500 m from imagery with a nominal spatial resolution of 500 m (Schaaf et al. 2002). However, 16 days of bi-daily observations are required to obtain enough points to reliably parameterise the MODIS BRDF. This is not possible with Landsat data where one observation for a point on the Earth is, nominally, only available every 16 days, and is always from the same view angle. Thus the range of angles is restricted to that obtained by the seasonal variation in sun position, and even this is only available over a long time period, which is then susceptible to on-ground change in the pixel being observed. Therefore a different scheme for obtaining a BRDF of the land surface from Landsat data is required. The scheme used to derive a BRDF model of the land’s surface requires collecting a set of pairs of bi-directional reflectance observations. Each pair represents two observations of the same location obtained close in time, but under different illumination and viewing conditions. Ground conditions are


assumed to be the same; therefore any difference in reflectance is due solely to the difference in phase angle (the angle between illumination and viewing vectors). The scheme has been used previously to obtain BRDF models from AVHRR and Landsat imagery (Shepherd and Dymond 2000, Danaher 2002). Pairs of observations were obtained from the atmospherically corrected Landsat imagery. Two important effects resulting from the nature of the Landsat orbit need to be considered when selecting pairs of observations (pixels). Firstly, images between adjacent paths overlap. Secondly, a location is observed at approximately the same local time each cycle. View angle variation was obtained by selecting pairs within the overlap regions. Sun angle variation was obtained by selecting pairs on either side of the equinox. Using pairs eight weeks apart, on either side of the equinox provides a maximal change in sun angle variation for a minimal change in ground conditions. Using pairs of observations constrains how the BRDF model can be solved and implemented. One limitation is that a per-pixel BRDF model cannot be obtained. A land cover dependent BRDF model can be obtained by stratify the pairs of observations by land cover. Such a scheme requires prior knowledge of the land cover, which will change both spatially and temporally. If the standardised imagery is to be used to derive land cover estimates, then those estimates can be used to solve the land cover dependent BRDF model. However, the process would be recursive, needing an initial estimate of the BRDF to begin with. A simpler solution is to derive a single BRDF model for the entire landscape. Therefore a BRDF model that is flexible enough to handle different land cover conditions is required. The pairs of observations used to parameterise the model must also be selected from a range of land cover and topographic conditions. A single BRDF model, once derived, has the added advantage that it is straight-forward to implement operationally. The kernel-driven Ross-Thick Li-Sparse (RTLS) reciprocal BRDF model was chosen as it has been found to perform well for a range of land cover types (Privette et al. 1997). Variation in land cover and topography were included in the set of observation pairs by sampling across the landscape. Pairs were obtained in both the spring and autumn equinoxes to reduce bias towards one particular type of change in land cover associated with a change in sun angle (Table 2). From each overlap pair, a set of pixels was selected to satisfy certain criteria. A number of sets were selected from horizontal ground (slope < 3%) and steep ground (slope > 50%), for a range of land cover conditions as determined using foliage projective cover (FPC) classes (0-5%, 5-10%, 10-15%, 15-20%, 20-30%, 30-40%, 40-50%, 50-60%, 60-70%, 70-80%, 80-90%), and these sets were combined to make a single large set of pixels.


Table 2: The dates, locations and solar angles for the overlapping pairs of Landsat imagery from which pairs of pixels were obtained for parameterising the BRDF model.

High-Sun Date 19/10/2003 1/3/2009 12/10/2003 19/2/2005 3/10/2003 21/2/2004 2/10/2004 24/2/2004

Path/Row 095/074 096/074 094/078 094/078 095/079 090/079 090/079 095/079

Sun Zenith 32o 38o 37o 39o 40o 41 39 42
o o o

Low-Sun Date 9/9/2003 27/4/2009 18/8/2003 17/4/2005 24/8/2003 4/5/2004 24/8/2004 20/4/2004

Path/Row 096/074 095/074 093/078 093/078 096/079 089/079 089/079 096/079

Sun Zenith 43o 47o 53o 49o 53o 56 52 52
o o o

Time Gap (days) 40 57 55 57 40 76 39 56

The RTLS model is comprised of a linear combination of three different types of surface scattering. The first is isotropic and represented by a single parameter . The second is volume scattering and modelled using the kernel, , , , of Ross (1981), where is the relative azimuth angle. The third is geometric scattering modelled using the geometric shadow casting kernel, , , , of Li & Strahler (1992). The kernels are both dependent on incidence, , exitance, , and relative azimuth, , angles, which are all functions of their respective zenith, , and azimuth angles, . Direct reflectance from a surface can be modelled as , , , , , , (7)

The task is to determine a single set of parameters, , , , from the set of observation pairs. Recall that is defined as the value that transforms a measured direct reflectance, , to a predicted (or standardised) direct reflectance, , as described by equation 3. Therefore can be obtained for a pair of pixels from equation 7 by substituting in the appropriate angles. Recall that the diffuse reflectance, was modelled as a multiple, , of the direct reflectance, . Therefore, determining requires an estimate of diffuse reflectance. Diffuse reflectance for a fixed exitance angle can be determined numerically from the BRDF model as 1

, ,


where and are the number of incidence and relative azimuth angles respectively for which the integral is to be evaluated. Appendix A shows the derivation of equation 8. Hence is given by


, ,


, ,


Because we only require a reflectance ratio, , rather than a reflectance, we must normalize the reflectance expression to avoid non-unique solutions. Thus , 1 , , , , , , , , ,






(10) ,


where the subscripts and , refer to the measured and standardised angles respectively, and we are able to solve for the two normalized parameters ⁄ ⁄ . To determine these parameters we minimised and (11)

Equation 11 is the same formulation as equation 4. The process was to predict the measured reflectance of observation 1 from the measured reflectance of observation 2 for each observed pair, to compute the absolute difference between the observed and predicted values, and to minimise the sum of these differences. Operational implementation There are currently over 15000 Landsat 5 TM and Landsat 7 ETM+ images in the Queensland DERM archive as downloaded from the United States Geological Survey (USGS) archive. All of these images were converted to standardised surface reflectance using the following sequence of steps. • • • • The image digital numbers were converted to top of atmosphere radiance using the provided gains and offsets. The apparent surface radiance, and horizontal-surface direct and diffuse irradiances were computed using 6S. The horizontal-surface irradiances were converted into sloped surface equivalents. The standardised surface reflectance was computed using the BRDF model parameters with equation 4. The images were standardised to an incidence angle of 45 degrees and exitance angle of 0 degrees.


Validation An image-based validation approach was used to validate the capacity of the and correction factors in equation 4 to adjust a reflectance value from one set of angles to another. Four independent sets of observation pairs were obtained to test the model under a range of conditions (Table 3). In each case the surface reflectance of the first pixel (with the higher sun elevation angle) in each pair was left unchanged. The surface reflectance of the second pixel (with the lower sun elevation angle) was used to predict the reflectance at the same sun and viewing geometry as the first pixel using equation 4. A comparison of the difference between the unchanged observations, and the difference between the observations with one pixel modified was undertaken for four different cases.
Table 3: The dates, locations and solar angles for the overlapping pairs of Landsat imagery from which pairs of pixels were obtained for validating the standardised imagery.

High-Sun Date 21/10/2003 21/10/2009 10/3/2007 1/3/2009

Path/Row 093/077 093/078 089/080 096/074

Sun Zenith 34o 32o 42 38
o o

Low-Sun Date 25/8/2003 27/8/2009 4/5/2007 27/4/2009

Path/Row 094/077 092/078 090/080 095/074

Sun Zenith 50o 49o 55 47
o o

Time Gap (days) 57 days 55 days 55 days 57 days

In all cases, pixels were screened for null values, cloud contamination and only pixels with incidence angle < 80 degrees were used, to ensure that at least some direct sunlight was illuminating the pixel. Case 1 involved flat terrain (slope less than 2 degrees). This case was analysed as the majority of pixels to be corrected in Australian conditions are on flat ground. The pixels were chosen to have slope < 3%. Case 2 involved observations made on steep terrain, in order to cover a wide range of incidence and exitance angles. Pixels were restricted to those having slope > 50%. Case 3 was a special case of case 2, that of pixels lying on the principle plane. When the land surface is horizontal, it is almost impossible in Australia to have a Landsat configuration along the principle plane. However, when the land surface is sloping in just the right way, it becomes possible, although even then the reflection hotspot can never be observed. Pairs of pixels in this set were selected as steep, as in Case 2, but further restricted to have the relative azimuth in the plane of the surface to be in the ranges 0 to 5 or 175 to 180 degrees, for one of the pair of dates. This implies that the sun-surface-satellite configuration lies along the principle plane. This will only be true for one of the dates in each pair, and in the other date the configuration will be off the principle plane. This test was included because this seemed likely to be the part of the


th BRDF shape with the most structure, and therefore more challenging for a BRDF adjustment. For Case 4 pixels were selected from steep terrain, as in Case 2, but exclusively on hill slopes facing away from the sun. The angle between the aspect of the hillside and the solar azimuth was restricted to the range 120 to 240 degrees, for the low sun image of each image pair. These slopes would be low-sun the darker side of the hill, and would therefore be most sensitive to the illumination by diffuse irradiance in shorter wavelengths. Running the same test wavelengths. as above would test the part of the algorithm in which reflectance is calculated from radiance, using the combination of direct and diffuse light, as deduced from the outputs of 6S. Results Figures 1 to 4 show the scatter plots for pairs of pixels under test cases 1 to 4. On all plots, the X axis is the high sun reflectance value, while the Y axis is reflectance value from the low sun image, both with or without adjustment to the angles for the high sun image. The solid line is the 1 1-to-1 line, and the dashed 1 line is the regression line (orthogonal distance regression), constrained to pass ssion through the origin. The slope of the regression line gives a measure of systematic bias in the prediction.

Figure 1: Validation plots of the BRDF correction on flat terrain. The left plot shows alidation . unadjusted data, and the right plot shows the low sun pixels adjusted to match the angles of the high sun pixels.


Figure 2: Validation plots of the BRDF correction on steep terrain. The left plot shows alidation . unadjusted data, and the right plot shows the low sun pixels adjusted to match the angles of the high sun pixels.

Figure 3: Validation plots of the BRDF correction along the principle plain. The left plot alidation shows unadjusted data, and the right plot shows the low sun pixels adjusted to match the angles of the high sun pixels.


Figure 4: Validation plots of the BRDF correction on the dark side of the hill. The left alidation plot shows unadjusted data and the right plot shows the low sun pixels adjusted to data, match the angles of the high sun pixels.

Figure 5 shows a region in South East Queensland. The image on the left is the standardised without allowing for topography. The image on the right is the The standardised image using the angles appropriate for the terrain at each pixel. appropriate pixel The removal of the topographic effects is apparent in the image on the right. right Figures 6 and 7 show Landsat 5 TM images mosaics for the states of Queensland and New South Wales respectively. In both Figures the image to the left is the at-sensor radiance with no correction applied, and the image to sensor radiance the right is the standardised surface reflectance standardised to nadir view and an exitance angle of 45 degrees. In both cases the spatial variation in brightness, due to varying solar zenith angles between image acquisition dates and view angles across the Landsat scenes, is greatly reduced. Note that variation in brightness due to different vegetation cover conditions is retained, and is particularly evident in the New South Wales image.


Figure 5: Removal of topographic effects. Both Landsat 5 TM images are of the same location in South east Qld, in the Gold Coast hinterland. The image on the left is atsensor radiance with no correction applied. The image on the right is the standardised surface reflectance and shows that most topographic effects have been removed. Note that areas in full shadow cannot be reliably estimated, and are masked out in the image on the right (white areas). Images are false colour composites of bands 5, 4, 2 shown as red, green, and blue respectively.

Figure 6: At-sensor radiance (left) and standardised surface reflectance (right) Landsat 5 TM mosaics for the state of Queensland. Images are false colour composites of bands 5, 4, 2 shown as red, green, and blue respectively.


Figure 7: At-sensor radiance (left) and standardised surface reflectance (right) Landsat 5 TM mosaics for the state of New South Wales. Images are false colour composites of bands 5, 4, 2 shown as red, green, and blue respectively.

Discussion The results show that the BRDF modelling captured the variation caused by differences in topography and viewing and illumination geometry. The scatter plots show that in the majority of cases for the majority of bands, the variation in reflectance is reduced (correlation coefficients and slope of line of best fit get closer to 1). The validation plots are supported by the imagery that shows that the shading caused by topography is reduced along with a reduction in the variation in reflectance between overlapping pairs of images. The nature of the Landsat data means that the BRDF modelling is not performed for each pixel. The model, therefore, does not capture fine-scale variation in bi-directional reflectance. Instead, the model accounts for the largescale variation in bi-directional reflectance caused by changes in topography, sun and sensor positions. Future work will focus on validating the estimates of surface reflectance from alternate data sources. One approach is to compare the reflectance values with scaled-up field observations acquired using a spectrometer. Another approach is to compare the Landsat estimates to those obtained from airborne hyperspectral imagery. Conclusions A method for producing standardised surface reflectance estimates was developed. The method utilised atmospheric transfer modelling code and subsequent modifications to obtain estimates of apparent surface radiance and direct and diffuse irradiance onto a sloping surface. The radiative transfer modelling outputs were used along with a parameterised BRDF model, to derive standardised surface reflectance estimates. Validation of the BRDF model showed that it was capable of reducing variation caused by topography and viewing and illumination conditions. The method was shown to be operationally viable as it was used to standardise over 15000 Landsat TM and ETM+ images of Queensland.


Appendix A. Derivation of the diffuse reflectance factor In equation 8 the diffuse reflectance is modelled as the average sum of all direct reflectance factors for a fixed view zenith and azimuth (exitance) angle. This result can be derived as follows. The diffuse reflectance factor is (12)

where is the radiance from a surface due to the diffuse irradiance and reflectance only. Diffuse irradiance can be thought of as an infinite number of point light sources covering the hemisphere above the target. Therefore is the sum of the all radiance reflected from the surface towards the sensor emanating from the infinite number of point light sources. This can be expressed as , (13)

where is the hemisphere, and and are the sun and view vectors respectively. Assuming the diffuse light is isotropic, then for incidence and k relative azimuth angles equation 13 can be evaluated as 1

, ,


Finally, equation 14 can be substituted into equation 12 to give equation 8.


Appendix B. Table of symbols Symbol , , , Meaning Incidence, exitance and relative azimuth angles Incidence and exitance angles onto a horizontal surface (equivalent to view zenith and solar zenith angles). , , , , , , , , , , Surface reflectance: direct, diffuse Surface reflectance: the subset p is for a predicted set of , , , and the subset m is for an observed set of , , .

, Surface-leaving radiance: total, direct and diffuse. The subscript m is for a specific set of observed , , . , Surface irradiance: direct and diffuse. No subscript denotes values for a sloping surface. The subscript h denotes the values for a horizontal surface. The subscript m is for a specific set of observed , , . Correction factor that transforms a measured direct reflectance, , to a predicted direct reflectance, .

diffuse reflectance multiple Binary coefficient. Zero for incidence angle > 90°. , Diffuse irradiance sky and terrain view factors. Average reflectance of pixels surrounding a given pixel. , , , , , Ross Thick Li Sparse reciprocal BRDF model coefficients Ross Thick Li Sparse BRDF kernels The number of incidence and exitance angles used to evaluate the diffuse reflectance factor. Sun and view vectors.

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