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Radiometric Correction of Image Data

Radiometric Correction

Atmospheric correction attempts to quantify (i.e., remove) the effect of the atmosphere at the time an image was acquired Geometric correction improves the fidelity of pixel-DN location in an image Radiometric correction improves the fidelity of the DNs that constitute an image The purpose of radiometric correction is to reduce the errors that may confound scientific use of the DNs

Sources of Radiometric Noise

Radiometric errors constitute the noise in a remotely sensed signal (i.e., image variations not associated with actual variations in the ground target of interest) The errors include sensor related effects (e.g., electronic noise, dropped scan lines) Spatial and/or temporal variations in the quantity or quality of illumination (incoming irradiance) Surface properties (e.g., topographic effects, sun glint)

Reasons for Radiometric Correction

Correct for inconsistencies in image DNs caused by sensor errors or environmental noise Normalize DNs between / among spectral channels in the same image Normalize DNs between / among multitemporal images Retrieve surface-energy properties such as reflectance, albedo, ground temperature, or other parameters associated with scientific units of measure

Errors Due to Sensor Problems

Line Dropout Striping or banding (detector out of adjustment) Noisy Line Start problems image Sensor Saturation

Corrected image

Errors Due to Sensor Problems

Offset scan lines

Landsat-7 Scan Line Corrector Failure

Pre-SLC anomaly

Error first noticed during May, 2003

Post-SLC anomaly

Post-SLC anomaly after correction algorithm Landsat-7 image of Railroad Valley, NV


Scene-Illumination Adjustment

Scene Illumination
In satellite remote sensing, imagery acquired at different times of the year may be required (e.g., to study phenological cycle) These may require sun elevation correction and an earth-sun distance correction Sun elevation correction accounts for the seasonal position of the sun relative to the earth

Image data acquired under different solar illumination angles need to be normalized to a constant solar position Correction (next slide) ignores topographic and atmospheric effects

Correction for Differential Illumination

Solar Elevation: the angular elevation of the sun above the horizon Solar Zenith Angle: the angular deviation from directly overhead (or the complement of elevation) Corrections:

DN ____ Sine Elevation Angle or DN ____ Cosine Zenith Angle

This procedure normalizes the data to an overhead sun

Scene-Illumination Adjustment

Earth-Sun Distance Correction

Earth-sun distance during:

Aphelion: 94.8 million miles (152.6 million kilometers) Perihelion: 91.7 million miles (147.5 million kilometers)

Normalize for seasonal changes in distance between earth & sun The irradiance from the sun decreases as the square of the earth-sun distance

The DNs Comprising Landsat Images

Following the launch of the LandsatMSS (1972), many research and applications projects were conducted (and published) using raw DNs Over time, investigators began to think about the pixel-brightness values (DNs). Questions followed.

Questions About Image DNs

What are they (and what arent they)? Is it valid to compare DNs from several different satellite systems (whether Landsat-5 versus Landsat-7 or Landsat-7 versus Spot-5 or other combinations)? Is it valid to compare image datasets from one time period to the next? How do we make DNs truly useful?

Answers to the Questions About DNs

The DNs are unit-less numbers that serve as surrogates for target radiance. In fact, the DNs are linear with radiance, but there is no scientific unit of measure associated with them. For scientific use, one must convert the DNs to some real physical unit (i.e., containing a meaningful unit of measure) For example, the DNs can be converted to radiance (mW cm-2 sr-1) and/or reflectance (%)

The article that called attention to the problem of image DNs, with a focus on Landsat


LMax is radiance measured at detector saturation LMin is the lowest radiance measured by the detector QCalMax is the maximum DN possible

Published tables for use in converting Landsat DNs to physical values

An Example of a Project Involving the Normalizing of Images to Cover a Large Study Area
No conversion of DNs to radiance or reflectance was necessary Rather, the need was to normalize the radiometry in the 20 Landsat-TM images to be used in a mosaic and also for change detection over time

Selected Landsat Scenes

Scene 1 Selection Path/Row 19/36 19/37 19/38 18/38 19/39 Optimal Period May7-June17 Apr23-June3 Apr23-June17 Apr23-June17 Apr23-July1 Dominant Land Cover (%) Forest (76.95) Forest (73.41) Forest (56.18) Forest (36.55) Forest 42.38) Selected Scenes (circa 1990) 1988 May 30 1990 June 5 1991 June 8 1990 May 29 1990 Apr 18 Selected Scenes (circa 2000) 2000 May 31 2001 May 18 2003 Apr 14 2000 Apr 30 2000 Apr 18

Scene 2 Selection Path/Row 19/36 19/37 19/38 18/38 19/39 Optimal Period Sep24-Dec31 Sep24-Dec32 Oct8-Dec2 Oct8-Dec31 Nov5-Jan28 Dominant Land Cover (%) Forest (76.95) Forest (73.41) Forest (56.18) Forest (36.55) Forest 42.38) Selected Scenes (circa 1990) 1991 Sep 28 1991 Sep 28 1986 Oct 16 1991 Nov 24 1990 Nov 12 Selected Scenes (circa 2000) 2000 Sep 28 2001 Oct 1 2001 Oct 14 2000 Oct 23 2000 Dec 17

Radiometric Normalization of Landsat Data

After visual interpretation, adjacent scenes appeared to have different ranges of brightness values The variation is likely due to differing atmospheric and illumination conditions A radiometric normalization process was used to correct the anomalies There was a need to adjust the brightness values in each band to approximately the same radiometric scale.

Methods for Radiometric Normalization

Adopted from Homer et al. (1997)

Identify a master scene First order atmospheric correction (haze reduction) Within areas of overlap between master and slave scenes, identify pseudoinvariant features (PIF) Difference overlapping area between master and slave scenes Calculate mean difference for each band based on PIFs Apply the mean difference, (bias value) to the entire slave scene

Pseudoinvariant Feature Selection

PIFs are targets that remain spectrally stable through time. Examples include paved areas, rooftops, deep non-turbid water, and dense evergreen forests.

Selection of 2 PIFs between common overlapping area of master and slave scene.

Difference of Overlap Area

Band1 master

Band1 slave

Band1 difference

Mean Difference of Overlap Area

The mean difference should ONLY be calculated using PIFs This will eliminate inaccurate bias values as a result of spectral dissimilarities between features such as vegetation Vegetative spectral characteristics change dramatically through time due to phenology.

The mean difference of the PIFs, (which remain spectrally constant through time) from master to slave image is about -62 Brightness Values. This bias value can be subtracted from the entire slave scene leaving approximately the same radiometric scale as the master image.

Note differences in tone

Before radiometric correction After

Statistical Results

To test if the pixels of the slave and master image are similar in brightness values, a 1 sample t-test was performed. The difference between the overlapping area of a) the haze adjusted master and b) the normalized slave scene was computed. 5,000 pixels were randomly sampled from the differenced image. If the radiometric normalization corrected dissimilarities in BVs between the images, then the mean difference of the overlapping area should equal 0 Ho: diff = 0 Ha: diff 0 t-statistic -10.757 << 1.95 (95% significance) then Ho is accepted, thus band 1 of the master and slave scenes are statistically similar.

Vendors Provide Some Corrections

Radiometrically corrected and calibrated spectral data in physical units at full instrument resolution as required Radiometrically corrected data that have also been spatially resampled Radiometrically corrected data with temporal compositing Radiometrically corrected data with conversion to specific physical or biophysical parameters such as soil moisture, leaf area index, absorbed photosynthetically active radiation, etc.


Radiometric corrections are needed to correct for errors, such as detector anomalies, sometimes found in image data It is possible to correct for variable imageillumination conditions; i.e., normalize imagery to a constant solar position (e.g., overhead) Conversions of raw DNs to physical units is necessary for scientific investigations Normalizing of multiple images to a selected master scene for a study area may be done using pseudo-invariant ground features