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A Simple Method for Retrieving Understory NDVI in Sparse Needleleaf Forests in Alaska Using MODIS BRDF Data

Department of Environmental Geochemical Cycle Research, Japan Agency for Marine-Earth Science and Technology, Yokohama 236-0001, Japan
Faculty of Life and Environmental Sciences, University of Tsukuba, Tsukuba, Ibaraki 305-8572, Japan
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Remote Sens. 2014, 6(12), 11936-11955;
Received: 26 June 2014 / Revised: 15 November 2014 / Accepted: 17 November 2014 / Published: 1 December 2014
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Remote Sensing of Changing Northern High Latitude Ecosystems)
PDF [6515 KB, uploaded 1 December 2014]


Global products of leaf area index (LAI) usually show large uncertainties in sparsely vegetated areas because the understory contribution is not negligible in reflectance modeling for the case of low to intermediate canopy cover. Therefore, many efforts have been made to include understory properties in LAI estimation algorithms. Compared with the conventional data bank method, estimation of forest understory properties from satellite data is superior in studies at a global or continental scale over long periods. However, implementation of the current remote sensing method based on multi-angular observations is complicated. As an alternative, a simple method to retrieve understory NDVI (NDVIu) for sparse boreal forests was proposed in this study. The method is based on the fact that the bidirectional variation in NDVIu is smaller than that in canopy-level NDVI. To retrieve NDVIu for a certain pixel, linear extrapolation was applied using pixels within a 5 × 5 target-pixel-centered window. The NDVI values were reconstructed from the MODIS BRDF data corresponding to eight different solar-view angles. NDVIu was estimated as the average of the NDVI values corresponding to the position in which the stand NDVI had the smallest angular variation. Validation by a noise-free simulation data set yielded high agreement between estimated and true NDVIu, with R2 and RMSE of 0.99 and 0.03, respectively. Using the MODIS BRDF data, we achieved an estimate of NDVIu close to the in situ measured value (0.61 vs. 0.66 for estimate and measurement, respectively) and reasonable seasonal patterns of NDVIu in 2010 to 2013. The results imply a potential application of the retrieved NDVIu to improve the estimation of overstory LAI for sparse boreal forests and ultimately to benefit studies on carbon cycle modeling over high-latitude areas. View Full-Text
Keywords: understory NDVI; boreal sparse forests; MODIS; BRDF understory NDVI; boreal sparse forests; MODIS; BRDF

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Yang, W.; Kobayashi, H.; Suzuki, R.; Nasahara, K.N. A Simple Method for Retrieving Understory NDVI in Sparse Needleleaf Forests in Alaska Using MODIS BRDF Data. Remote Sens. 2014, 6, 11936-11955.

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