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A weighted least-squares approach to temporal NDVI smoothing

November 13, 1999

Satellite imagery provides a unique vantage point for observing seasonal dynamics of the landscape that have implications for global change issues. An objective evaluation of surface conditions may be performed using the normalized difference vegetation index (NDVI) derived from National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration advanced very high resolution radiometer data. NDVI data are typically very noisy, affected by a number of phenomena including cloud contamination, atmospheric perturbations, and variable illumination and viewing geometry, each of which usually reduces the NDVI. This work describes a weighted least-squares linear regression approach to temporal NDVI smoothing to more efficiently reduce contamination in the NDVI signal. This approach uses a moving window operating on temporal NDVI to calculate a regression line. The window is moved one period at a time, resulting in a family of regression lines associated with each point; this family of lines is then averaged at each point and interpolated between points to provide a continuous temporal NDVI signal. Also, since the factors that cause contamination usually serve to reduce NDVI values, the system applies a weighting factor that favors peak points over sloping or valley points. A final operation assures that all peak NDVI values are retained. The resulting relationship between the smoothed curve and the original data is statistically based. The smoothed data may be used to improve applications involving time-series NDVI data, such as land cover classification, seasonal vegetation characterization, and vegetation monitoring