Combining medium and coarse spatial resolution satellite data to improve the estimation of sub-pixel NDVI time series


The potential of multitemporal coarse spatial resolution remotely sensed images for vegetation monitoring is reduced in fragmented landscapes, where most of the pixels are composed of a mixture of different surfaces. Several approaches have been proposed for the estimation of reflectance or NDVI values of the different land-cover classes included in a low resolution mixed pixel. In this paper, we propose a novel approach for the estimation of sub-pixel NDVI values from multitemporal coarse resolution satellite data. Sub-pixel NDVIs for the different land-cover classes are calculated by solving a weighted linear system of equations for each pixel of a coarse resolution image, exploiting information about within-pixel fractional cover derived from a high resolution land-use map. The weights assigned to the different pixels of the image for the estimation of sub-pixel NDVIs of a target pixel i are calculated taking into account both the spatial distance between each pixel and the target and their spectral dissimilarity estimated on medium-resolution remote-sensing images acquired in different periods of the year. The algorithm was applied to daily and 16-day composite MODIS NDVI images, using Landsat-5 TM images for calculation of weights and accuracy evaluation. Results showed that application of the algorithm provided good estimates of sub-pixel NDVIs even for poorly represented land-cover classes (i.e., with a low total cover in the test area). No significant accuracy differences were found between results obtained on daily and composite MODIS images. The main advantage of the proposed technique with respect to others is that the inclusion of the spectral term in weight calculation allows an accurate estimate of sub-pixel NDVI time series even for land-cover classes characterized by large and rapid spatial variations in their spectral properties. © 2007 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Remote Sensing of Environment, (112), 1, pp. 118-131,