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Remote Sens. 2017, 9(8), 835;

Challenges in Methane Column Retrievals from AVIRIS-NG Imagery over Spectrally Cluttered Surfaces: A Sensitivity Analysis

College of Marine Science, University of South Florida, 140 7th Ave. South, St. Petersburg, FL 33701, USA
Bubbleology Research International, 1642 Elm Ave, Solvang, CA 93463, USA
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 12 May 2017 / Revised: 2 August 2017 / Accepted: 8 August 2017 / Published: 12 August 2017
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Remote Sensing of Greenhouse Gases)
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A comparison between efforts to detect methane anomalies by a simple band ratio approach from the Airborne Visual Infrared Imaging Spectrometer-Classic (AVIRIS-C) data for the Kern Front oil field, Central California, and the Coal Oil Point marine hydrocarbon seep field, offshore southern California, was conducted. The detection succeeded for the marine source and failed for the terrestrial source, despite these sources being of comparable strength. Scene differences were investigated in higher spectral and spatial resolution collected by the AVIRIS-C successor instrument, AVIRIS Next Generation (AVIRIS-NG), by a sensitivity study. Sensitivity to factors including water vapor, aerosol, planetary boundary layer (PBL) structure, illumination and viewing angle, and surface albedo clutter were explored. The study used the residual radiance method, with sensitivity derived from MODTRAN (MODerate resolution atmospheric correction TRANsmission) simulations of column methane (XCH4). Simulations used the spectral specifications and geometries of AVIRIS-NG and were based on a uniform or an in situ vertical CH4 profile, which was measured concurrent with the AVIRIS-NG data. Small but significant sensitivity was found for PBL structure and water vapor; however, highly non-linear, extremely strong sensitivity was found for surface albedo error. For example, a 10% decrease in the surface albedo corresponded to a 300% XCH4 increase over background XCH4 to compensate for the total signal, less so for stronger plumes. This strong non-linear sensitivity resulted from the high percentage of surface-reflected radiance in the airborne at-sensor total radiance. Coarse spectral resolution and feedback from interferents like water vapor underlay this sensitivity. Imaging spectrometry like AVIRIS and the Hyperspectral InfraRed Imager (HyspIRI) candidate satellite mission, have the advantages of contextual spatial information and greater at-sensor total radiance. However, they also face challenges due to their relatively broad spectral resolution compared to trace gas specific orbital sensors, e.g., the Greenhouse gases Observing SATellite (GOSAT), which is especially applicable to trace gas retrievals over scenes with high spectral albedo variability. Results of the sensitivity analysis are applicable for the residual radiance method and CH4 profiles used in the analysis, but they illustrate potential significant challenges in CH4 retrievals using other approaches. View Full-Text
Keywords: methane; AVIRIS-NG; albedo sensitivity; spectral clutter; spatial heterogeneity; GOSAT; remote sensing methane; AVIRIS-NG; albedo sensitivity; spectral clutter; spatial heterogeneity; GOSAT; remote sensing

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Zhang, M.; Leifer, I.; Hu, C. Challenges in Methane Column Retrievals from AVIRIS-NG Imagery over Spectrally Cluttered Surfaces: A Sensitivity Analysis. Remote Sens. 2017, 9, 835.

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