Prasad Thenkabail


Dr. Prasad S. Thenkabail, Research Geographer-15, U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), is a world-recognized expert in remote sensing science with multiple major contributions in the field sustained over more than 30 years. He obtained his PhD from the Ohio State University in 1992 and has over 140 peer-reviewed scientific publications, mostly in major international journals.

Dr. Thenkabail has conducted pioneering research in the area of hyperspectral remote sensing of vegetation and in that of global croplands and their water use for food security. In hyperspectral remote sensing he has done cutting-edge research with wide implications in advancing remote sensing science in application to agriculture and vegetation. This body of work led to more than ten peer-reviewed research publications with high impact. For example, a single paper [1] has received 1000+ citations as at the time of writing (September 9, 2018). Two other papers [2,3] have 350+ and 425+ citations each. Numerous other papers, book chapters, and books (some related to this work, as we will learn below) have made highly significant contributions to field of hyperspectral remote sensing of agriculture, vegetation, water, food security as well as in global croplands for food and water security. In addition, there are important manuscripts in press or preparation specifically related to this website [14,15].

In studies of global croplands for food and water security, he has led the release of the world’s first Landsat 30-m derived global cropland extent product. This work demonstrates a “paradigm shift” in how remote sensing science is conducted. The product can be viewed in full resolution at the web location The data is already widely used worldwide and is downloadable from the NASA\USGS LP DAAC site [4]. There are numerous major publication in this area (e.g.[5,6,10,11,12,13]).

Dr. Thenkabail’s contributions to series of leading edited books on remote sensing science places him as a world leader in remote sensing science advances. He edited three-volume book entitled Remote Sensing Handbook published by Taylor and Francis, with 82 chapters and more than 2000 pages, widely considered a “magnus opus” encyclopedic standard reference for students, scholars, practitioners, and major experts in remote sensing science. Links to these volumes along with endorsements from leading global remote sensing scientists can be found at the location give in note [7]. He has recently completed editing Hyperspectral Remote Sensing of Vegetation published books by Taylor and Francis in four volumes with 50 chapters (expected publication in December 2018). This is the second edition that is currently in press and is a follow-up on the earlier single-volume Hyperspectral Remote Sensing of Vegetation [8]. He has also edited   a book on Remote Sensing of Global Croplands for Food Security (Taylor and Francis) [9]. These books are widely used and widely referenced in institutions worldwide.

Dr. Thenkabail’s service to remote sensing community is second to none. He is currently an editor-in-chief of the Remote Sensing open access journal published by MDPI; an associate editor of the journal Photogrammetric Engineering and Remote Sensing (PERS) of the American Society of Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing (ASPRS); and an editorial advisory board member of the International Society of Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing (ISPRS) Journal of Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing. Earlier, he served on the editorial board of Remote Sensing of Environment for many years (2007–2017). As an editor-in-chief of the open access Remote Sensing MDPI journal from 2013 to date he has been instrumental in providing leadership for an online publication that did not even have an impact factor when he took over but is now one of the five leading remote sensing international journals, with an impact factor of 3.244.

Dr. Thenkabail has led remote sensing programs in three international organizations: International Water Management Institute (IWMI), 2003–2008; International Center for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD), 1995–1997;  and International Institute of Tropical Agriculture    (IITA),1992–1995. He has worked in more than 25 countries on several continents, including East Asia (China), S-E Asia (Cambodia, Indonesia, Myanmar, Thailand, Vietnam), Middle East (Israel, Syria), North America (United States, Canada), South America (Brazil), Central Asia (Uzbekistan), South Asia (Bangladesh, India, Nepal, and Sri Lanka), West Africa (Republic of Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Cote d’Ivoire, Gambia, Ghana, Mali, Nigeria, Senegal, and Togo), and Southern Africa (Mozambique, South Africa). During this period, he has made major contributions and written seminal papers on remote sensing of agriculture, water resources, inland valley wetlands, global irrigated and rain-fed croplands, characterization of African rainforests and savannas, and drought monitoring systems.

The quality of Dr. Thenkabail’s research is evidenced in the many awards, which include, in 2015, the American Society of Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing (ASPRS) ERDAS award for best scientific paper in remote sensing (Marshall and Thenkabail); in 2008, the ASPRS President’s Award for practical papers, second place (Thenkabail and coauthors); and in 1994, the ASPRS Autometric Award for outstanding paper (Thenkabail and coauthors). His team was recognized by the Environmental System Research Institute (ESRI) for “special achievement in GIS” (SAG award) for their Indian Ocean tsunami work. The USGS and NASA selected him to be on the Landsat Science Team for a period of five years (2007–2011).

Dr. Thenkabail is regularly invited as keynote speaker or invited speaker at major international conferences and at other important national and international forums every year. He has been principal investigator and/or has had lead roles of many pathfinding projects, including the ~5 million over five years for the global food security support analysis data in the 30-m (GFSAD) project (https:// funded by NASA MEaSUREs, and projects such as Sustain and Manage America’s Resources for Tomorrow (waterSMART) and characterization of Eco-Regions in Africa (CERA).


PUBLICATIONS (only 15 recent out of total 140+ publications listed)

1. Thenkabail, P.S., Smith, R.B., and De-Pauw, E. 2000b. Hyperspectral vegetation indices for determining agricultural crop characteristics. Remote Sensing of Environment,  71:158–182.

2. Thenkabail, P.S., Enclona, E.A., Ashton, M.S., Legg, C., Jean De Dieu, M., 2004. Hyperion, IKONOS, ALI, and ETM+ sensors in the study of African rainforests. Remote Sensing of Environment, 90:23–43.

3. Thenkabail, P.S.,  Enclona, E.A., Ashton, M.S., and Van  Der Meer, V.  2004. Accuracy assessments   of hyperspectral waveband performance for vegetation analysis applications. Remote Sensing of Environment, 91(2–3):354–376.


5. Thenkabail, P.S. 2012. Guest Editor for Global Croplands Special Issue. Photogrammetric Engineering and Remote Sensing, 78(8).

6. BOOK: Three Volume Book entitled: Remote Sensing Handbook by Thenkabail, P.S., Knox, J.W., Ozdogan, M., Gumma, M.K., Congalton, R.G., Wu, Z., Milesi, C., Finkral, A., Marshall, M., Mariotto, I., You, S. Giri, C. and Nagler, P. 2012. Assessing future risks to agricultural productivity, water resources and food security: how can remote sensing help?. Photogrammetric Engineering and Remote Sensing, August 2012 Special Issue on Global Croplands: Highlight Article. 78(8):773–782. IP-035587.

7. Remote-Sensing-Handbook---Three-Volume-Set/ Thenkabail/p/ book/9781482218015

8. BOOK: Four volume Hyperspectral Remote Sensing of Vegetation (to be published in December, 2018). The current single volume at: book/9781439845370

9. BOOK: Remote Sensing of Global Croplands for Food Security: ht t ps://www. crcpress. com / Remote- Sensing- of- Global- Croplands-for- Food- Secur it y/ Thenkabail-Lyon-Turral-Biradar/p/book/9781138116559

10. Teluguntla, P., Thenkabail, P.S., Oliphant, A., Xiong, J., Gumma, M.K. 2018. A 30-m Landsat-derived Cropland Extent Product of Australia and China using Random Forest Machine Learning Algorithm on Google Earth

Engine Cloud Computing Platform. ISPRS Journal of Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing, 144: 325-340, ISSN 0924-2716. Download the open access paper from here: IP-095003.

11. Xiong, J., Thenkabail, P.S., Tilton, J.C., Gumma, M.K., Teluguntla, P., Oliphant, A., Congalton, R.G., Yadav, K., and Gorelick, N. 2017. Nominal 30-m Cropland Extent Map of Continental Africa by Integrating Pixel-Based and Object-Based Algorithms Using Sentinel-2 and Landsat-8 Data on Google Earth Engine. Remote Sens. 2017, 9(10), 1065; doi:10.3390/rs9101065 and also downloadable@: IP-088538

12. Teluguntla, P., Thenkabail, P.S., Xiong, J., Gumma, M.K., Congalton, R.G., Oliphant, A., Poehnelt, J., Yadav, K., Rao, M., and Massey, R. 2017. Spectral matching techniques (SMTs) and automated cropland classification algorithms (ACCAs) for mapping croplands of Australia using MODIS 250-m time-series (2000–2015) data, International Journal of Digital Earth, Vol. 10- 2017, Issue 9. DOI: 10.1080/17538947.2016.1267269. IP-074181. Link to this article: Link to this article: IP-074181.

13. Xiong, J., Thenkabail, P.S., Gumma, M., Teluguntla, P., Poehnelt, J.,   Congalton, R., Yadav. K. 2017. Automated Cropland Mapping of Continental Africa using Google Earth Engine Cloud Computing. The International Society of Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing (ISPRS) Journal of Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing (P&RS). 126:225-244. One of the msot downloaded articles in ISPRS (Ranked 6th most downloaded; as noted Aug. 17, 2018) : IP-081308

14. Aneece, I., and Thenkabail, P.S. 2018. Spaceborne Hyperspectral EO-1 Hyperion data pre-processing: Methods, approaches, and algorithms. Book Chapter 9 in Volume I: Introduction, Sensor Systems, Spectral Libraries, and Data Mining”. In Book: “Hyperspectral Remote Sensing of Vegetation (Second Edition, 4 Volume Set). CRC Press- Taylor and Francis group, Boca Raton, London, New York.  (Editors: Thenkabail, P.S., Lyon, G.J., and Huete, A.). (Editors: Thenkabail, P.S., Lyon, G.J., and Huete, A.).  IP-091722

15. Aneece, I.P., Thenkabail, P.S., Slonecker, T., and Huete, A. 2018. Accuracies of Classifying Five Leading World Crops and their Growth Phases using Optimal Earth Observing-1 Hyperion Hyperspectral Narrowbands on Google Earth Engine Cloud Computing Platform. International Journal of Photogrammetry and Remote sensing (ISPRS) Journal of Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing. In review.