A comparison of illumination geometry-based methods for topographic correction of QuickBird images of an undulant area

Jindong Wu, Marvin E. Bauer, Dong Wang, Steven M. Manson

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38 Scopus citations


The high spatial resolution of QuickBird satellite images makes it possible to show spatial variability at fine details. However, the effect of topography-induced illumination variations become more evident, even in moderately sloped areas. Based on a high resolution (1 m) digital elevation model generated with high-frequency real-time kinematic global position system measurements, this study assessed topographic effects on QuickBird images of an undulant area (with a maximum slope of 7.4°) under different illumination and ground conditions. For land surfaces that were characterized by a non-Lambertian reflection, significant bidirectional variations in spectral radiances were found in all bands. The effectiveness of four illumination geometry-based topographic correction methods was evaluated. The results indicated that the empirical correction was the most effective method for all spectral bands in both solar and view directions, while the cosine correction gave the worst results. The C correction (in the solar direction) and the Minnaert correction reduced topographic effects, but not as effectively as the empirical correction. For the Lambertian, topographic effects were substantial only in the near infrared band in the solar direction. Bidirectional variations of spectral radiances in other bands and/or view directions were minimal and topographic corrections may not be necessary. None of these methods significantly changed the spatial variability of spectral radiances, although the histogram distributions were greatly modified by the cosine correction and the Minnaert correction.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)223-236
Number of pages14
JournalISPRS Journal of Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 2008

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
QuickBird satellite images were provided by grant USDA/NASA 2001–52103–11321 and the ground measurements were supported by the grant from the University of Minnesota Graduate School Grant-In-Aid Program. We wish to acknowledge Dr. Carl Rosen and Mr. Frank Kasowski for providing the field site, and Dr. Kurt Spokas and Dr. Yi Zhang for the general assistance with GPS measurements. We also greatly appreciate the constructive suggestions of three anonymous reviewers.

Copyright 2008 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.


  • Bidirectional
  • DEM
  • High resolution
  • QuickBird
  • Topography


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