Articles | Volume 9, issue 1
Brief communication
20 Jan 2017
Brief communication |  | 20 Jan 2017

A BRDF–BPDF database for the analysis of Earth target reflectances

Francois-Marie Breon and Fabienne Maignan

Abstract. Land surface reflectance is not isotropic. It varies with the observation geometry that is defined by the sun, view zenith angles, and the relative azimuth. In addition, the reflectance is linearly polarized. The reflectance anisotropy is quantified by the bidirectional reflectance distribution function (BRDF), while its polarization properties are defined by the bidirectional polarization distribution function (BPDF). The POLDER radiometer that flew onboard the PARASOL microsatellite remains the only space instrument that measured numerous samples of the BRDF and BPDF of Earth targets.

Here, we describe a database of representative BRDFs and BPDFs derived from the POLDER measurements. From the huge number of data acquired by the spaceborne instrument over a period of 7 years, we selected a set of targets with high-quality observations. The selection aimed for a large number of observations, free of significant cloud or aerosol contamination, acquired in diverse observation geometries with a focus on the backscatter direction that shows the specific hot spot signature. The targets are sorted according to the 16-class International Geosphere-Biosphere Programme (IGBP) land cover classification system, and the target selection aims at a spatial representativeness within the class. The database thus provides a set of high-quality BRDF and BPDF samples that can be used to assess the typical variability of natural surface reflectances or to evaluate models. It is available freely from the PANGAEA website (doi:10.1594/PANGAEA.864090).

In addition to the database, we provide a visualization and analysis tool based on the Interactive Data Language (IDL). It allows an interactive analysis of the measurements and a comparison against various BRDF and BPDF analytical models. The present paper describes the input data, the selection principles, the database format, and the analysis tool

Short summary
We have used a large database of multidirectional land surface reflectance measured from space, including polarization properties, to build a database of representative BRDFs and BPDFs. This database can be used to assess the variability in land surface reflectances, in particular their directional and polarization signatures, and to evaluate models. We have also built an interactive tool for an easy analysis of the database contents.