Retrieval of canopy height using moderate-resolution imaging spectroradiometer (MODIS) data

Zhuosen Wang, Crystal B. Schaaf, Philip Lewis, Yuri Knyazikhin, Mitchell A. Schull, Alan H. Strahler, Tian Yao, Ranga B. Myneni, Mark J. Chopping, Bryan J. Blair

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

42 Scopus citations


In this study we use the 500 m Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) Bidirectional Reflectance Distribution Function (BRDF) product to develop multivariate linear regression models that estimate canopy heights over study sites at Howland Forest, Maine, Harvard Forest, Massachusetts and La Selva Forest, Costa Rica using (1) directional escape probabilities that are spectrally independent and (2) the directional spectral reflectances used to derive the directional escape probabilities. These measures of canopy architecture are compared with canopy height information retrieved from the airborne Laser Vegetation Imaging Sensor (LVIS). Both the escape probability and the directional reflectance approaches achieve good results, with correlation coefficients in the range 0.54-0.82, although escape probability results are usually slightly better. This suggests that MODIS 500 m BRDF data can be used to extrapolate canopy heights observed by widely-spaced satellite LIDAR swaths to larger areas, thus providing wide-area coverage of canopy height.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1595-1601
Number of pages7
JournalRemote Sensing of Environment
Issue number6
StatePublished - 15 Jun 2011


  • Biomass
  • Canopy height
  • Forest structure
  • LVIS
  • La Selva Forest
  • MODIS BRDF/Albedo product
  • New England forests


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