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# History of the NDVI

## & Vegetation Indices

Compton Tucker
NASA/UMD/CCSPO
What are the NDVI, EVI, etc.
and why do we use them?
VIs are estimates of the visible light absorbed by plant canopies --
the photosynthetic capacity (Sellers 1985 & 1987, Myneni et al. 95)

## This energy drives photosynthesis.

Thus S NDVI over time = ~ GPP
The NDVI is not greenness! -- what does this mean anyway?; and
is not biomass (biological mass)!
The NDVI does not saturate any more than photosynthesis
saturates. Both are limited by a lack of photons in the red.
The EVI is not as highly correlated to APAR as the NDVI because
the EVI is more weighted to the near infrared.
More on NDVI, EVI comparisons later.
Vegetation Indices from Susan Ustin
Index Formula Details Citation
Simple Ratio Green vegetation cover. Pearson, 1972
R NIR Various wavelengths,
depending on sensor. (e.g.
RR NIR = 845nm, R=665nm)

## Normalized RNIR RR Green vegetation cover.

Various wavelengths,
Tucker 1979
Difference
Vegetation Index RNIR RR depending on sensor. (e.g.
NIR = 845nm, R=665nm)

## Enhanced C1 =6; C2=7; L=1; G=2,5

Vegetation Index Hu ete 1997

## Rs Rv2 (NIRs NIRv)2

Perpendicular Perpendicular distance from Richardson
Vegetation Index the pixels to the soil line. and Wiegand
1977

## Soil Adjusted NIR R L = soil adjusted factor Hu ete 1988

Vegetation Index 1 L
Modified Soil NIR R L L = (1-2a x(NIR-aR) x NDVI) Qi et al 1994
optimize for soil effects.
Vegetation Index Higher dy namic range.

## Transformed Soil a NIR aR b a=slope of soil line

b=intercept of soil line
Baret and
Gu yot 1991
R a ( NIR b) 0.08(1 a 2 )
Vegetation Index

NIR R
Soil and More independent of surface Hu ete et al

2.5
Atmospherically brightness 1997
Resistant
Vegetation Index 1 NIR 6R 7.B
Who
invented the
NDVI?
Spectral Vegetation Indices
Birth and McVey 1968 Measuring color of growing turf with a reflectance
spectrometer Agronomy Journal 60(6):640-645.
Jordan 1969 Derivation of leaf area index from quality of light on the forest
floor Ecology 50(4):1271-1318.

Pearson and Miller 1972. Remote mapping of standing crop biomass for
estimation of the productivity of the shortgrass prairie. Proc. 8th Intl. Symp.
Remote Sens. Environ., Univ. Michigan, pp. 1357-1381.

Rouse et al. 1974 Monitoring vegetation systems in the Great Plains with
ERTS. Proc. 3rd ERTS-1 Symp. pp. 301-319. [NO LITERATURE CITED, a
few paragraphs on vegetation indices, and they used the TVI not the NDVI!].

## Tucker 1977 Use of Near Infrared/Red Radiance Ratios for Estimating

Vegetation Biomass and Physiological Status. X-923-109, Greenbelt, NASA
Goddard Space Flight Center 41 p. (preprint of Tucker 1979 RSE).

## Deering 1978 Rangeland reflectance characteristics measured by aircraft and

spacecraft sensors. College Station, TX, Texas A&M University: 338 p.
Spectral Vegetation Indices
Birth and McVey 1968 Measuring color of growing turf with a reflectance
spectrometer Agronomy Journal 60(6):640-645. Other papers:
Birth, G. S. 1977 Optical properties of blue cheese as affected by
aging J. Dairy Sci. 60:57-58.
Birth, Davis, and Townsend 1976. Scatter coefficient as a measure of
pork quality J. Animal Sci. 43:238-239.

Jordan 1969: 4 data points and no other publications on topic. Many other
publications on a range of tropical ecology topics though.

Rouse et al. and Deering et al. -- no subsequent journal articles on NDVI (Verba
volent, scripta manet), used the Transformed Vegetation Index. TVI=
SQRT(NDVI+0.5). Rouse et al. 1974: However, previous studies have shown
that the combinations of these four parameters can provide more useful
parameters for specific comparisons. What previous studies? --

## Japanese researcher in the 1960s working in photosynthesis published a paper

on red and near IR methods but I lost the reference that someone sent me.
Spectral Vegetation Indices
>2,800 articles in referred literature @ Web of Science*#
>46,000 citations of these articles*
Wide use in many earth science disciplines
Greatest use of any remote sensing measurement
Greatest use by many times of data from AVHRR
*as of June 1, 2006
#using criteria vegetation index, normalized difference
vegetation index, NDVI, & papers that cite Tucker 1979 or
Richardson and Wiegand 1977
Top 20 VI Article Journals, from a
total of 386 Journals, from ISI
Rank Name Cited Pubs
1 Remote Sens ing of Envi ronment 13,426 499
2 International Jou rnal of Remote Sens ing 12,403 741
3 Science 3,423 27
4 IEEE Transactions on Geo science & Remote Sensing 2,946 111
5 Journal of Geophy sical Research-Atmospheres 2,930 143
6 Nature 2,838 21
7 Photogr amme tric Eng inee ring and Remote Sensing 2,577 144
8 Global Biogeoche mi cal Cy cles 1,588 40
9 Journal of Clim ate 1,160 32
10 Ecological Appli cations 1,138 34
11 Global Change Biology 1,064 66
12 Agricult ura l and Forest Meteorology 926 40
13 Clim atic Change 813 33
14 Journal of App li ed Meteorology 600 24
15 Agronomy Journa l 427 35
16 Geophy sical Research Letters 341 44
17 Journal of Arid Envi ronments 204 32
18 Transactions of the Am. Soc. Agr ic ultural Eng . 196 29
19 Ecological Modelling 187 26
20 Global Eco logy and Biogeogr aphy 125 23
Top 10 cited VI papers
rank Published work citations
1 Tucker 1979, Remote Sens. Environ. 8:127-150 780

HistCite

## From Web of Science

11-20 VI most cited papers
11 Sellers P.J. 1996, Journal Climate 9:676-706 353

## 20 Deschamps P.Y. 1994, IEEE Transactions on Geoscience 32:598-615 250

2 very important questions we face:
Human-accelerated climate change
&
Unprecedented biological diversity loss
Measured Surface Temperature
the past 150 years
5 warmest years: 1998, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005
We must protect the Earth

## Apollo 12s Classic Earth Rise from Moon

Mauna Loa Observatory &
Charles David Keeling
Atmospheric CO2 measurements
Where are we?
How did I get here today?
In situ hyperspectral grassland studies 1971-73

Plant physiological basis for band selection, NDVI, modeling
hand-held instruments 1973-1975 1972-73

## Extensive field testing: Colorado & Yellowstone 1972-74; Iceland,

Sweden, England, Scotland, Wales 1976; Beltsville USA 1977-79

## Senegal: Use NDVI from NOAA satellites 1981-1983; work

continued and expanded by Danish and other scientists

## Start large-scale environmental studies with many others

Leaf Reflectance & Absorption

## Bean leaf x 3900

M.S. and Ph. D Work
1975 "Shortgrass Praire Spectral Measurements", C.J.
Tucker, L.D. Miller, and R.L. Pearson, Photogrammetric
Engineering and Remote Sensing, 41(9):1157-1162.

## 1976 "A Hand-held Spectral Radiometer to Estimate

Gramineous Biomass," R.L. Pearson, L. D. Miller, and C.J.
Tucker, Applied Optics, 16(2):416-418.

## 1976 "Sensor Design for Monitoring Vegetation Canopies,"

C.J. Tucker and E.L. Maxwell, Photogrammetric Engineering
and Remote Sensing, 42(11):1399-1410.

## 1977 "Leaf Optical System Modeled as a Stochastic

Process," C.J. Tucker and M.W. Garratt, Applied Optics,
16:635-642.

## 1977 "Asymptotic Nature of Grass Canopy Reflectance," C.

J. Tucker, Applied Optics, 16(8):1059-1067.

## 1977 "Spectral Estimation of Grass Canopy Variables", C.

J. Tucker, Remote Sensing of Environment, 6(1):11-28.
Close to Missoula in 1974
Field Work in Iceland July 1976
Field Work in Iceland July 1976
Field Work in Iceland July 1976
Beltsville USA winter wheat biomass
Winter wheat biomass harvest
S NDVI vs. total dry biomass

Explained 80% of
biomass
accumulation
Satellite Test of NDVI-Biomass Results
Senegals Ferlo Area
during rainy season
Marked contrasts between the dry
and wet seasons

## (~300 mm/yr @ Senegal)

Satellite&ground
study 1981-1983
NOAA AVHRR 8-km NDVI Data Set
The
GIMMS
Project
1982
NDVI Maximum Value Composites

## 8-km output bin from 4-km spatial resolution data at subpoint

All orbits, all data processed, equal area map projection
Scan Angle Restriction to +/- 40 degrees
Average NDVI 1981-2006

~40,000 orbits
of satellite data

(ir+red)
Satellite
NDVI
data
sources

NOAA-16
NOAA 14 MODISes
NOAA 11 AVHRR
NOAA 9 AVHRR NPP
AVHRR SPOT
NOAA 7
AVHRR NOAA-18
SeaWiFS
NOAA 9 NOAA-17

## 1980 1985 1990 1995 2000 2005 2010

NDVI AVHRR-MODIS matchup
Different AVHRR NDVI Data Sets
Pathfinder from NASA/GSFC DAAC
NOAA Global Vegetation Index or GVI
GIMMS data set of NASA/GSFC
Others also

## All share more or less identical input data

Different calibrations, different volcanic
corrections, different solar zenith angle
corrections
NDVI problems with PAL and GVI
for 35oN - 35oS
What could have been done better?
Why wasnt the AVHRR ever improved for
better NDVI data by NOAA?
Narrow channel 1 and channel 2
Global 1 km data -- its only 15 gb a day!
Operate 6 channels all the time instead of 5
Theres no L in NOAA!
What needs to be done better?
The earth science community must focus on climate
science -- satellites are crucial for this
AVHRR-MODIS-VIIRS data are the most important
climate science measurements (land-ocean-atmosphere)
Landsat observations are the next most important land
climate science observations
Canopy lidar was the 3rd most important land climate
science observation
Avoid detours in the present fiscal situation that
compromise climate measurements
What about Why cant the earth
science community get organized like the
space science community for future
satellite missions?
In the space science community, every group gets their
turn for missions because there is NO NEED FOR
MEASUREMENTS OVER TIME
Climate change is THE earth science question
We all must support satellite and ground measurements
that provide key climate science information thru time
Time series satellite data are invaluable for climate
science
Satellite Remote Sensing of Earth

## SeaWiFS Ocean Chlorophyll

Land NDVI
5 SeaWiFS land bands
Sahara Desert
0.50

0.45

0.40

reflectance

## Sahara RFL555 Sahara RFL670 Sahara Desert

0.30 Sahara RFL875

0.25

0.20

0.15

0.10

0.05

7 7 8 8 8 8 9 9 9 9 0 0 0 0 1 1 1 1 2
2 /9 2/9 2 /9 2 /9 2 /9 2/9 2 /9 2 /9 2 /9 2/9 2 /0 2 /0 2 /0 2/0 2 /0 2 /0 2 /0 2/0 2 /0
2 /2 2 2 2 /2 2 2 2 /2 2 2 2 /2 2 2 2 /2 2
9/ 12 3/ 6/ 9/ 12 3/ 6/ 9/ 12 3/ 6/ 9/ 12 3/ 6/ 9/ 12 3/

Time
Sahel Zone
Sudanian NDVI - EVI
EVI = 2.5*[ir-red]/[ir+(6*red)-7.5*(blue)+1]
Amazon forest 443 & 670 nm bands
Amazon NDVI vs r 670 nm
Amazon EVI

EVI = 2.5*[ir-red]/[ir+(6*red)-7.5*(blue)+1]
EVI = 2.5*[ir-red]/[ir+(6*red)-7.5*(blue)+1]
NDVI vs. Red Reflectance
EVI vs. Red Reflectance
Who invented the NDVI?

or

Charlie
Chan?

## The Creature from the

Black Lagoon never published!! Larry, Mo, & Curly?