Summary Results from:

Comparisons of land cover and LAI estimates derived from ETM+ and MODIS for four sites in North America: a quality assessment of 2000/2001 provisional MODIS products
As they relate to the validation of MOD15

Authors: Warren B. Cohen , Thomas K. Maiersperger, Zhiqiang Yang, Stith T. Gower, David P. Turner, William D. Ritts, Mercedes Berterretche, Steven W. Running

Source: Remote Sensing of Environment 88 (2003) 233-255

Link to: Access Publication


The MODIS land science team produces a number of standard products, including land cover and leaf area index (LAI). Critical to the success of MODIS and other sensor products is an independent evaluation of product quality. In that context, we describe a study using field data and Landsat ETM+ to map land cover and LAI at four 49-km² sites in North America containing agricultural cropland (AGRO), prairie grassland (KONZ), boreal needleleaf forest, and temperate mixed forest. The purpose was to: (1) develop accurate maps of land cover, based on the MODIS IGBP (International Geosphere-Biosphere Programme) land cover classification scheme; (2) derive continuous surfaces of LAI that capture the mean and variability of the LAI field measurements; and (3) conduct initial MODIS validation exercises to assess the quality of early (i.e., provisional) MODIS products. ETM+ land cover maps varied in overall accuracy from 81% to 95%. The boreal forest was the most spatially complex, had the greatest number of classes, orest, and prairie grassland sites, ETM+ and MODIS cover estimates were similar. Collection 3 MODIS-based LAI estimates were considerably higher (up to 4 m²m²) than those based on ETM+ LAI at each site. There are numerous probable reasons for this, the most important being the algorithms’ sensitivity to MODIS reflectance calibration, its use of a prelaunch AVHRR-based land cover map, and its apparent reliance on mainly red and near-IR reflectance. Samples of Collection 4 LAI products were examined and found to consist of significantly improved LAI predictions for KONZ, and to some extent for AGRO, but not for the other two sites. In this study, we demonstrate that MODIS reflectance data are highly correlated with LAI across three study sites, with relationships increasing in strength from 500 to 1000 m spatial resolution, when shortwave-infrared bands are included.