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An Improved Flexible Spatiotemporal DAta Fusion (IFSDAF) method for producing high spatiotemporal resolution normalized difference vegetation index time series

Liu, Meng, Yang, Wei, Zhu, Xiaolin, Chen, Jin, Chen, Xuehong, Yang, Linqing, Helmer, Eileen H.
Remote sensing of environment 2019 v.227 pp. 74-89
Landsat, autocorrelation, biosphere, data collection, ecosystems, land cover, models, moderate resolution imaging spectroradiometer, monitoring, normalized difference vegetation index, prediction, reflectance, remote sensing, spatial variation, time series analysis, variance, vegetation
The Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI) is one of the most commonly used vegetation indices for monitoring ecosystem dynamics and modeling biosphere processes. However, global NDVI products are usually provided with relatively coarse spatial resolutions that lack important spatial details. Producing NDVI time-series data with high spatiotemporal resolution is indispensable for monitoring land surfaces and ecosystem changes, especially in spatiotemporally heterogeneous areas. The Improved Flexible Spatiotemporal DAta Fusion (IFSDAF) method was developed in this study to fill this need. In accord with the distinctive characteristics of NDVIs with large data variance and high spatial autocorrelation compared with raw reflectance bands, the IFSDAF method first produces a time-dependent increment with linear unmixing and a space-dependent increment via thin plate spline interpolation. It then makes a final prediction by optimal integration of these two increments with the constrained least squares method. Moreover, the IFSDAF was developed with the capacity to use all available finer-scaled images, including those partly contaminated by clouds. NDVI images with coarse spatial resolution (MODIS) and fine spatial resolution (Landsat and Sentinel) in areas with great spatial heterogeneity and significant land cover changes were used to test the performance of the IFSDAF method. The root mean square error and relative root mean square error of predicted relative to observed results were 0.0884 and 22.12%, respectively, in heterogeneous areas, and 0.0546 and 25.77%, respectively, in areas of land-cover change. These promising results demonstrated the strength and robustness of the IFSDAF method in providing reliable NDVI datasets with high spatial and temporal resolution to support research on land surface processes. The efficiency of the proposed IFSDAF method can be greatly improved by using only the space-dependent increment. This simplification will make IFSDAF a feasible method for monitoring global vegetation.