MODIS land cover and LAI collection 4 product quality across nine sites in the western hemisphere

Warren B. Cohen, Thomas K. Maiersperger, David P. Turner, William D. Ritts, Dirk Pflugmacher, Robert E. Kennedy, Alan Kirschbaum, Steven W. Running, Marcos Costa, Stith T. Gower

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Global maps of land cover and leaf area index (LAI) derived from the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectrometer (MODIS) reflectance data are an important resource in studies of global change, but errors in these must be characterized and well understood. Product validation requires careful scaling from ground and related measurements to a grain commensurate with MODIS products. We present an updated BigFoot project protocol for developing 25-m validation data layers over 49-km2 study areas. Results from comparisons of MODIS and BigFoot land cover and LAI products at nine contrasting sites are reported. In terms of proportional coverage, MODIS and BigFoot land cover were in close agreement at six sites. The largest differences were at low tree cover evergreen needleleaf sites and at an Arctic tundra site where the MODIS product overestimated woody cover proportions. At low leaf biomass sites there was reasonable agreement between MODIS and BigFoot LAI products, but there was not a particular MODIS LAI algorithm pathway that consistently compared most favorably. At high leaf biomass sites, MODIS LAI was generally overpredicted by a significant amount. For evergreen needleleaf sites, LAI seasonally was exaggerated by MODIS. Our results suggest incremental improvement from Collection 3 to Collection 4 MODIS products, with some remaining problems that need to be addressed.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1645284
Pages (from-to)1843-1857
Number of pages15
JournalIEEE Transactions on Geoscience and Remote Sensing
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 2006


  • Land cover
  • Landsat
  • Leaf area index (lai)
  • Moderate resolution imaging spectrometer (modis)
  • Scaling
  • Validation


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