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Effect of NOAA satellite orbital drift on AVHRR-derived phenological metrics

July 18, 2017

The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) Earth Resources Observation and Science (EROS) Center routinely produces and distributes a remote sensing phenology (RSP) dataset derived from the Advanced Very High Resolution Radiometer (AVHRR) 1-km data compiled from a series of National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) satellites (NOAA-11, −14, −16, −17, −18, and −19). Each NOAA satellite experienced orbital drift during its duty period, which influenced the AVHRR reflectance measurements. To understand the effect of the orbital drift on the AVHRR-derived RSP dataset, we analyzed the impact of solar zenith angle (SZA) on the RSP metrics in the conterminous United States (CONUS). The AVHRR weekly composites were used to calculate the growing-season median SZA at the pixel level for each year from 1989 to 2014. The results showed that the SZA increased towards the end of each NOAA satellite mission with the highest increasing rate occurring during NOAA-11 (1989–1994) and NOAA-14 (1995–2000) missions. The growing-season median SZA values (44°–60°) in 1992, 1993, 1994, 1999, and 2000 were substantially higher than those in other years (28°–40°). The high SZA in those years caused negative trends in the SZA time series, that were statistically significant (at α = 0.05 level) in 76.9% of the CONUS area. A pixel-based temporal correlation analysis showed that the phenological metrics and SZA were significantly correlated (at α = 0.05 level) in 4.1–20.4% of the CONUS area. After excluding the 5 years with high SZA (>40°) from the analysis, the temporal SZA trend was largely reduced, significantly affecting less than 2% of the study area. Additionally, significant correlation between the phenological metrics and SZA was observed in less than 7% of the study area. Our study concluded that the NOAA satellite orbital drift increased SZA, and in turn, influenced the phenological metrics. Elimination of the years with high median SZA reduced the influence of orbital drift on the RSP time series.

Publication Year 2017
Title Effect of NOAA satellite orbital drift on AVHRR-derived phenological metrics
DOI 10.1016/j.jag.2017.06.013
Authors Lei Ji, Jesslyn F. Brown
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title International Journal of Applied Earth Observation and Geoinformation
Index ID 70189577
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Earth Resources Observation and Science (EROS) Center