In recent years, China has developed and launched several satellites with high spatial resolutions, such as the resources satellite No. 3 (ZY-3) with a multi-spectral camera (MUX) and 5.8 m spatial resolution, the satellite GaoFen No. 1 (GF-1) with a wide field of view (WFV) camera and 16 m spatial resolution, and the environment satellite (HJ-1A/B) with a charge-coupled device (CCD) sensor and 30 m spatial resolution. First, to analyze the potential application of ZY-3 MUX, GF-1 WFV, and HJ-1 CCD to extract the leaf area index (LAI) at the regional scale, this study estimated LAI from the relationships between physical model-based spectral vegetation indices (SVIs) and LAI values that were generated from look-up tables (LUTs), simulated from the combination of the PROSPECT-5B leaf model and the scattering by arbitrarily inclined leaves with the hot-spot effect (SAILH) canopy reflectance model. Second, to assess the surface reflectance quality of these sensors after data preprocessing, the well-processed surface reflectance products of the Landsat-8 operational land imager (OLI) sensor with a convincing data quality were used to compare the performances of ZY-3 MUX, GF-1 WFV, and HJ-1 CCD sensors both in theory and reality. Apart from several reflectance fluctuations, the reflectance trends were coincident, and the reflectance values of the red and near-infrared (NIR) bands were comparable among these sensors. Finally, to analyze the accuracy of the LAI estimated from ZY-3 MUX, GF-1 WFV, and HJ-1 CCD, the LAI estimations from these sensors were validated based on LAI field measurements in Huailai, Hebei Province, China. The results showed that the performance of the LAI that was inversed from ZY-3 MUX was better than that from GF-1 WFV, and HJ-1 CCD, both of which tended to be systematically underestimated. In addition, the value ranges and accuracies of the LAI inversions both decreased with decreasing spatial resolution.
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