Multisensor comparisons and validation of MODIS vegetation indices at the semiarid jornada experimental range

Xiang Gao, Alfredo R. Huete, Kamel Didan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

48 Scopus citations


Vegetation indices (VIs) are one of the standard science products available from the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) instrument on the Earth Observing System (EOS) Terra platform, launched in December 1999. An important requirement of MODIS science products is that they be rigorously validated. In this study, we conducted a site-intensive MODIS VI product validation at the semiarid Jornada Experimental Range, New Mexico, an EOS Land Validation Core Site. Our validation approach involved scaling up independent fine-grained datasets, including ground and airborne radiometry, and high spatial resolution imagery [Enhanced Thematic Mapper Plus (ETM+)], to the coarser MODIS spatial resolutions. The MODIS VIs were evaluated with respect to their radiometric performances, the uncertainties of the compositing methodology, and their capabilities to depict seasonal variations in vegetation. The MODIS Quick Airborne Looks (MQUALS) radiometric package was found useful in up-scaling field in situ measurements to coarser spatial resolutions. Both single-day nadir-view and 16-day composited MODIS reflectances and VIs matched well with the nadir-based atmosphere-free MQUALS observations for all the land cover types found at Jornada, with the root mean squared deviations less than 0.03. The MODIS 16-day composited products also performed well with the single-day nadir-view MODIS data, despite some off-nadir view angles and uncertainties with the cloud mask algorithm. The quality assurance (QA)-based constrained view angle-maximum value composite (CV-MVC) algorithm successfully filtered out much of the cloud and aerosol contaminated observations and helped to minimize view angle-related problems. The MODIS seasonal VI profiles also matched quite well with the other multiple sensor datasets obtained at the finer spatial resolutions. The QA information was found to be crucial in achieving consistent spatial and temporal comparisons of global vegetation conditions and for deriving accurate depictions of important phenological features in multitemporal MODIS data. The results of this validation study over the Jornada Experimental Range demonstrated the accuracy, reliability, and science utility of the MODIS VI products in arid and semiarid areas.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2368-2381
Number of pages14
JournalIEEE Transactions on Geoscience and Remote Sensing
Issue number10 PART I
StatePublished - Oct 2003


  • Moderate resolution imaging spectroradiometer (MODIS)
  • Multisensor
  • Scaling
  • Validation
  • Vegetation index

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering
  • General Earth and Planetary Sciences


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