Optimizing the Protocol of Near-Surface Remote Sensing Experiments Over Heterogeneous Canopy Using DART Simulated Images

Biao Cao, Jean Philippe Gastellu-Etchegorry, Tiangang Yin, Zunjian Bian, Junhua Bai, Junyong Fang, Boxiong Qin, Yongming Du, Hua Li, Qing Xiao, Qinhuo Liu

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


Optical canopy models that connect land surface properties and satellite-observed radiance must be validated before being used. These models include the bidirectional reflectance distribution function (BRDF) models in the visible and near-infrared domains, and directional brightness temperature (DBT) models in the thermal infrared domain. Near-surface experiments have been extensively conducted to evaluate the modeling accuracy, including ground-, tower-, and aircraft-based measurements. Indeed, it should be noted that in situ measured BRDF/DBT results are sensitive to the experiment protocol, such as sensor moving orientation, flight height, and sampling frequency. A practical tool for optimizing the in situ measurement protocols is needed in the community of remote sensing modeling. For that, we devised a virtual experiment framework based on the discrete anisotropic radiative transfer (DART) 3-D radiative transfer model that is capable of simultaneously simulating both the BRDF/DBT pattern and the images acquired by in situ cameras. Here, as an optimization case, we use it to determine the optimal sensor flight orientation over heterogeneous vegetated canopies (a row-planted scene with three solar angles and a discrete scene with three solar angles) for measuring their DBT distribution. Results showed considerable errors (i.e., image-extracted DBT minus DART-simulated DBT) exist for sensor flight orientation along the canopy rows ( R^{2} = 0.24 and root mean square error (RMSE) = 4.32 K), and they become much smaller ( R^{2} = 0.94 0.98 and RMSE = 0.82 1.03 K) in other typical orientations (e.g., cross row plane, solar principal plane, and cross solar principal plane). The critical azimuth offset relative to the row direction that can ensure an acceptable RMSE < 1 K is quantified as atan(3∗Unitwidth/Scenesize) based on a series of intensive simulations by this new tool. However, the RMSE of the discrete scene is not sensitive to the flight orientation. Such accuracy differences in various protocols were experimentally verified over row-planted maize using a 4-D tower in Huailai, Hebei, China. The result highlights the great potential of this newly designed DART-based virtual experiment to optimize near-surface experiment protocols.

Original languageEnglish
Article number5000616
Pages (from-to)1
Number of pages1
JournalIEEE Transactions on Geoscience and Remote Sensing
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2023


  • Directional brightness temperature (DBT)
  • discrete anisotropic radiative transfer (DART)
  • protocol optimization
  • row-planted canopy
  • virtual experiment

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering
  • General Earth and Planetary Sciences


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