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Bidirectional reflectance distribution function (BRDF), Sentinel-2, NBAR, MODIS, Landsat, Africa


The Sentinel-2A multi-spectral instrument (MSI) acquires multi-spectral reflective wavelength observations with directional effects due to surface reflectance anisotropy and changes in the solar and viewing geometry. Directional effects were examined by considering two ten day periods of Sentinel-2A data acquired close to the solar principal and orthogonal planes over approximately 20° × 10° of southern Africa. More than 6.6 million (January 2016) and 10.6 million (April 2016) pairs of reflectance observations sensed 3 or 7 days apart in the forward and backscatter directions in overlapping Sentinel-2A orbit swaths were considered. The Sentinel-2A data were projected into the MODIS sinusoidal projection but first had to be registered due to a misregistration issue evident in the overlapping orbits. The top of atmosphere reflectance data were corrected to surface reflectance using the SEN2COR atmospheric correction software. Only pairs of forward and backward reflectance values that were cloud and snow-free, unsaturated, and had no significant change in their 3 or 7 day separation, were considered. The maximum observed Sentinel-2A view zenith angle was 11.93°. Greater BRDF effects were apparent in the January data (acquired close to the solar principal plane) than the April data (acquired close to the orthogonal plane) and at higher view zenith angle. For the January data the average difference between the surface reflectance in the forward and backward scatter directions at the Sentinel-2A scan edges increased with wavelength from 0.035 (blue), 0.047 (green), 0.057 (red), 0.078 (NIR), to about 0.1 (SWIR). These differences may constitute a significant source of noise for certain applications. The suitability of a recently published methodology developed to generate Landsat nadir BRDF-adjusted reflectance (NBAR) was examined for Sentinel-2A application. The methodology uses fixed MODIS BRDF spectral parameters and is attractive because it has little sensitivity to the land cover type, condition, or surface disturbance and can be derived in a computationally efficient manner globally. It was applied to the southern Africa Sentinel- 2A data and shown to reduce Sentinel-2A BRDF effects. The average difference between the reflectance in the forward and backward scatter directions at the Sentinel-2A scan edges was smaller in the NBAR data than in the corresponding surface reflectance data. Residual BRDF effects in the Sentinel-2A NBAR data occurred likely because of atmospheric correction and sensor calibration errors and inadequacies in the NBAR derivation approach. These issues are discussed with recommendations for future research including global and red-edge Sentinel-2A NBAR derivation that were not considered in this study.

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Remote Sensing of Envrioment



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Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.


This article was published in Remote Sensing of Environment (2017) 199, doi: