Unmanned aerial system nadir reflectance and MODIS nadir BRDF-adjusted surface reflectances intercompared over Greenland
Abstract. Albedo is a fundamental parameter in earth sciences, and many analyses utilize the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) bidirectional reflectance distribution function (BRDF)/albedo (MCD43) algorithms. While derivative albedo products have been evaluated over Greenland, we present a novel, direct comparison with nadir surface reflectance collected from an unmanned aerial system (UAS). The UAS was flown from Summit, Greenland, on 210 km transects coincident with the MODIS sensor overpass on board the Aqua and Terra satellites on 5 and 6 August 2010. Clear-sky acquisitions were available from the overpasses within 2 h of the UAS flights. The UAS was equipped with upward- and downward-looking spectrometers (300–920 nm) with a spectral resolution of 10 nm, allowing for direct integration into the MODIS bands 1, 3, and 4. The data provide a unique opportunity to directly compare UAS nadir reflectance with the MODIS nadir BRDF-adjusted surface reflectance (NBAR) products. The data show UAS measurements are slightly higher than the MODIS NBARs for all bands but agree within their stated uncertainties. Differences in variability are observed as expected due to different footprints of the platforms. The UAS data demonstrate potentially large sub-pixel variability of MODIS reflectance products and the potential to explore this variability using the UAS as a platform. It is also found that, even at the low elevations flown typically by a UAS, reflectance measurements may be influenced by haze if present at and/or below the flight altitude of the UAS. This impact could explain some differences between data from the two platforms and should be considered in any use of airborne platforms.