A Large Airborne Survey of Earth’s Visible-Infrared Spectral Dimensionality


The intrinsic spectral dimensionality indicates the observable degrees of freedom in Earth’s solar-reflected light field, quantifying the diversity of spectral content accessible by visible and infrared remote sensing. The solar-reflected regime spans the 0.38 - 2.5 μm interval, and is captured by a wide range of current and planned instruments on both airborne and orbital platforms. To date there has been no systematic study of its spectral dimensionality as a function of space, time, and land cover. Here we report a multi-site, multi-year statistical survey by NASA’s “Classic” Airborne Visible Near InfraRed Spectrometer (AVIRIS-C). AVIRIS-C measured large regions of California, USA, spanning wide latitudinal and elevation gradients containing all canonical MODIS land cover types. The spectral uniformity of the AVIRIS-C design enabled consistent in-scene assessment of measurement noise across acquisitions. The estimated dimensionality as a function of cover type ranged from the low 20s to the high 40s, and was approximately 50 for the combined dataset. This result indicates the high diversity of physical processes distinguishable by imaging spectrometers like AVIRIS-C for one region of the Earth.

Optics Express, 2017