Sensitivity of narrowband vegetation indices to boreal forest LAI, reflectance seasonality and species composition

Janne Heiskanen, Miina Rautiainen, Pauline Stenberg, Matti Mõttus, Veli Heikki Vesanto

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

49 Citations (Scopus)


There is growing evidence that imaging spectroscopy could improve the accuracy of satellite-based retrievals of vegetation attributes, such as leaf area index (LAI) and biomass. In this study, we evaluated narrowband vegetation indices (VIs) for estimating overstory effective LAI (LAIeff) in a southern boreal forest area for the period between the end of snowmelt and maximum LAI using three Hyperion images and concurrent field measurements. We compared the performance of narrowband VIs with two SPOT HRVIR images, which closely corresponded to the imaging dates of the Hyperion data, and with synthetic broadband VIs computed from Hyperion images. According to the results, narrowband VIs based on near infrared (NIR) bands, and NIR and shortwave infrared (SWIR) bands showed the strongest linear relationships with LAIeff over its typical range of variation and for the studied period of the snow-free season. The relationships were not dependent on dominant tree species (coniferous vs. broadleaved), which is an advantage in heterogeneous boreal forest landscapes. The best VIs, particularly those based on NIR spectral bands close to the 1200nm liquid water absorption feature, provided a clear improvement over the best broadband VIs.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-14
Number of pages14
JournalISPRS Journal of Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2013
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


  • Boreal forest
  • Hyperion
  • Hyperspectral
  • Imaging spectroscopy
  • Leaf area index


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