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Estimating proportional change in forest cover as a continuous variable from multi-year MODIS data

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This article describes a series of fundamental analyses designed to test and compare the utility of various MODIS data and products for detecting land cover change over a large area of the tropics. The approach for estimating proportional forest cover change as a continuous variable was based on a reduced major axis regression model. The model relates multispectral and multi-temporal MODIS data, transformed to optimize the spectral detection of vegetation changes, to reference change data sets derived from a Landsat data record for several study sites across the Central American region. Three MODIS data sets with diverse attributes were evaluated on model consistency, prediction accuracy and practical utility in estimating change in forest cover over multiple time intervals and spatial extents. A spectral index based on short-wave infrared information (normalized difference moisture index), calculated from half-kilometer Calibrated Radiances data sets, generally showed the best relationships with the reference data and the lowest model prediction errors at individual study areas and time intervals. However, spectral indices based on atmospherically corrected surface reflectance data, as with the Vegetation Indices and Nadir Bidirectional Reflectance Distribution Function - Adjusted Reflectance (NBAR) data sets, produced consistent model parameters and accurate forest cover change estimates when modeling over multiple time intervals. Models based on anniversary date acquisitions of the one-kilometer resolution NBAR product proved to be the most consistent and practical to implement. Linear regression models based on spectral indices that correlate with change in the brightness, greenness and wetness spectral domains of these data estimated proportional change in forest cover with less than 10% prediction error over the full spatial and temporal extent of this study.
Hayes, Daniel J. , Cohen, Warren B. , Sader, Steven A. , Irwin, Daniel E.
Includes references
Remote sensing of environment 2008 Mar. 18, v. 112, no. 3
Journal Articles, USDA Authors, Peer-Reviewed
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