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Sensors (Basel). 2010;10(7):6421-38. doi: 10.3390/s100706421. Epub 2010 Jun 30.

Aerosol optical retrieval and surface reflectance from airborne remote sensing data over land.

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  • 1Institute for Atmospheric Pollution, Italian National Research Council, Division Airborne Laboratory for Environmental Research, Research Area of Roma-2 in Tor Vergata, Via Fosso del Cavaliere 100, 00133 Rome, Italy.


Quantitative analysis of atmospheric optical properties and surface reflectance can be performed by applying radiative transfer theory in the Atmosphere-Earth coupled system, for the atmospheric correction of hyperspectral remote sensing data. This paper describes a new physically-based algorithm to retrieve the aerosol optical thickness at 550 nm (τ(550)) and the surface reflectance (ρ) from airborne acquired data in the atmospheric window of the Visible and Near-Infrared (VNIR) range. The algorithm is realized in two modules. Module A retrieves τ(550) with a minimization algorithm, then Module B retrieves the surface reflectance ρ for each pixel of the image. The method was tested on five remote sensing images acquired by an airborne sensor under different geometric conditions to evaluate the reliability of the method. The results, τ(550) and ρ, retrieved from each image were validated with field data contemporaneously acquired by a sun-sky radiometer and a spectroradiometer, respectively. Good correlation index, r, and low root mean square deviations, RMSD, were obtained for the τ(550) retrieved by Module A (r(2) = 0.75, RMSD = 0.08) and the ρ retrieved by Module B (r(2) ≤ 0.9, RMSD ≤ 0.003). Overall, the results are encouraging, indicating that the method is reliable for optical atmospheric studies and the atmospheric correction of airborne hyperspectral images. The method does not require additional at-ground measurements about at-ground reflectance of the reference pixel and aerosol optical thickness.


aerosol optical thickness; atmospheric correction; atmospheric radiative transfer; hyperspectral remote sensing; reflectance; remote sensing

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