Anisotropy Parameterization Development and Evaluation for Glacier Surface Albedo Retrieval from Satellite Observations

Shaoting Ren, Evan S. Miles, Li Jia*, Massimo Menenti, Marin Kneib, Pascal Buri, Michael J. McCarthy, Thomas E. Shaw, Wei Yang, Francesca Pellicciotti

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)
4 Downloads (Pure)


Glacier albedo determines the net shortwave radiation absorbed at the glacier surface and plays a crucial role in glacier energy and mass balance. Remote sensing techniques are efficient means to retrieve glacier surface albedo over large and inaccessible areas and to study its variability. However, corrections of anisotropic reflectance of glacier surface have been established for specific shortwave bands only, such as Landsat 5 Thematic Mapper (L5/TM) band 2 and band 4, which is a major limitation of current retrievals of glacier broadband albedo. In this study, we calibrated and evaluated four anisotropy correction models for glacier snow and ice, applicable to visible, near-infrared and shortwave-infrared wavelengths using airborne datasets of Bidirectional Reflectance Distribution Function (BRDF). We then tested the ability of the best-performing anisotropy correction model, referred to from here on as the ‘updated model’, to retrieve albedo from L5/TM, Landsat 8 Operational Land Imager (L8/OLI) and Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) imagery, and evaluated these results with field measurements collected on eight glaciers around the world. Our results show that the updated model: (1) can accurately estimate anisotropic factors of reflectance for snow and ice surfaces; (2) generally performs better than prior approaches for L8/OLI albedo retrieval but is not appropriate for L5/TM; (3) generally retrieves MODIS albedo better than the MODIS standard albedo product (MCD43A3) in both absolute values and glacier albedo temporal evolution, i.e., exhibiting both fewer gaps and better agreement with field observations. As the updated model enables anisotropy correction of a maximum of 10 multispectral bands and is implemented in Google Earth Engine (GEE), it is promising for observing and analyzing glacier albedo at large spatial scales.
Original languageEnglish
Article number1714
Number of pages28
JournalRemote Sensing
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - 28 Apr 2021


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