Quality assessment of several methods to recover surface reflectance using synthetic imaging spectroscopy data

E. Ben-Dor, B. Kindel, A. F.H. Goetz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


A synthetic data spectral cube that represents at-sensor radiance data of AVIRIS was used to examine the accuracy of several methods to recover absolute surface reflectance data of terrestrial targets. Soil and vegetation targets, selected to represent the images of ground variation and their spectra, were retrieved using HATCH, Empirical Line (EL) and their hybrids methods. After a synthetic radiance data cube was generated, reflectance recovery was carried out and compared with the true (input) reflectance information. It was found that even under controlled and ideal conditions, the spectral recovery using HATCH code provided differences of up to 40%. The EL methods, using the two end-members that represent the scene reduced this difference to about 4%, and in some cases, even to 0.1% It was found that selecting the calibration targets over low water vapor content improved the results. Applying EL on radiance data provided a severe difference of more than 200% in areas located outside the calibration target water vapor zone. Only over similar water vapor zones were the EL methods found to reasonably recover the surface reflectance. Examining the spectral variability in the calibration targets showed that using of spectral features targets with relative spectral similarity is almost as effective as using spectrally featureless targets for the EL process. Applying EL, using external spectral information of possible known targets, revealed a relatively high difference, as compared to the true reflectance data. However, thematic analysis using a SAM classifier proved that even under non-ideal conditions, the EL correction can yield a reasonable spatial mapping capability relative to those obtained under real reflectance domains. It was concluded that EL must be run on reflectance data (generated from absolute based method) over low water vapor zones to provide the most precise reflectance information. Also, it was found that it is not mandatory to select calibration targets that are totally featureless or characterized by low or high albedo response.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)389-404
Number of pages16
JournalRemote Sensing of Environment
Issue number3
StatePublished - 15 Apr 2004


  • Atmospheric correction
  • Empirical line
  • Imaging spectroscopy
  • Synthetic data
  • Thematic analysis


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