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Sensors 2015, 15(8), 18865-18886;

Optimal Atmospheric Correction for Above-Ground Forest Biomass Estimation with the ETM+ Remote Sensor

Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Yonsei University, 134 Shinchon-dong, Seodaemun-gu, Seoul 120-749, Korea
National Academy of Agricultural Science, Rural Development Administration, 166 Nongsaengmyeong-ro, Iseo-myeon, Wanju-gun, Jeollabuk-do 565-851, Korea
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: Assefa M. Melesse
Received: 18 June 2015 / Revised: 22 July 2015 / Accepted: 23 July 2015 / Published: 31 July 2015
(This article belongs to the Section Remote Sensors)
Full-Text   |   PDF [2250 KB, uploaded 31 July 2015]   |  


The reflectance of the Earth’s surface is significantly influenced by atmospheric conditions such as water vapor content and aerosols. Particularly, the absorption and scattering effects become stronger when the target features are non-bright objects, such as in aqueous or vegetated areas. For any remote-sensing approach, atmospheric correction is thus required to minimize those effects and to convert digital number (DN) values to surface reflectance. The main aim of this study was to test the three most popular atmospheric correction models, namely (1) Dark Object Subtraction (DOS); (2) Fast Line-of-sight Atmospheric Analysis of Spectral Hypercubes (FLAASH) and (3) the Second Simulation of Satellite Signal in the Solar Spectrum (6S) and compare them with Top of Atmospheric (TOA) reflectance. By using the k-Nearest Neighbor (kNN) algorithm, a series of experiments were conducted for above-ground forest biomass (AGB) estimations of the Gongju and Sejong region of South Korea, in order to check the effectiveness of atmospheric correction methods for Landsat ETM+. Overall, in the forest biomass estimation, the 6S model showed the bestRMSE’s, followed by FLAASH, DOS and TOA. In addition, a significant improvement of RMSE by 6S was found with images when the study site had higher total water vapor and temperature levels. Moreover, we also tested the sensitivity of the atmospheric correction methods to each of the Landsat ETM+ bands. The results confirmed that 6S dominates the other methods, especially in the infrared wavelengths covering the pivotal bands for forest applications. Finally, we suggest that the 6S model, integrating water vapor and aerosol optical depth derived from MODIS products, is better suited for AGB estimation based on optical remote-sensing data, especially when using satellite images acquired in the summer during full canopy development. View Full-Text
Keywords: k-Nearest Neighbor; biomass estimation; DOS; FLAASH; 6S k-Nearest Neighbor; biomass estimation; DOS; FLAASH; 6S

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This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited (CC BY 4.0).

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Nguyen, H.C.; Jung, J.; Lee, J.; Choi, S.-U.; Hong, S.-Y.; Heo, J. Optimal Atmospheric Correction for Above-Ground Forest Biomass Estimation with the ETM+ Remote Sensor. Sensors 2015, 15, 18865-18886.

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