A relation between landsat digital numbers, surface reflectance, and the cosine of the solar zenith angle

William S. Kowalik, Stuart E. Marsh, Ronald J.P. Lyon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

11 Scopus citations

Abstract

A method for estimating the reflectance of ground sites from satellite radiance data is proposed and tested. The method uses the known ground reflectance from several sites and satellite data gathered over a wide range of solar zenith angles. The method was tested on each of 10 different Landsat images using 10 small sites in the Walker Lake, Nevada area. Plots of raw Landsat digital numbers (DNs) versus the cosine of the solar zenith angle (cos Z) for the the test areas are linear, and the average correlation coefficients of the data for Landsat bands 4, 5, 6, and 7 are 0.94, 0.93, 0.94, and 0.94, respectively. Ground reflectance values for the 10 sites are proportional to the slope of the DN versus cos Z relation at each site. The slope of the DN versus cos Z relation for seven additional sites in Nevada and California were used to estimate the ground reflectances of those sites. The estimates for nearby sites are in error by an average of 1.2% and more distant sites are in error by 5.1%. The method can successfully estimate the reflectance of sites outside the original scene, but extrapolation of the reflectance estimation equations to other areas may violate assumptions of atmospheric homogeneity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)39-55
Number of pages17
JournalRemote Sensing of Environment
Volume12
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Mar 1982
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Soil Science
  • Geology
  • Computers in Earth Sciences

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