Performance of vegetation indices from Landsat time series indeforestation monitoring

Published on
August 9, 2016

An article of Michael Schultza, Jan Clevers, Sarah Carter, Jan Verbesselt, Valerio Avitabile, Hien Vu Quang and Martin Herold: Performance of vegetation indices from Landsat time series indeforestation monitoring, has been published in the International Journal of Applied Earth Observation and Geoinformation 52 (2016), 318–327.



The performance of Landsat time series (LTS) of eight vegetation indices (VIs) was assessed for monitoringdeforestation across the tropics. Three sites were selected based on differing remote sensing observationfrequencies, deforestation drivers and environmental factors. The LTS of each VI was analysed using theBreaks For Additive Season and Trend (BFAST) Monitor method to identify deforestation. A robust refer-ence database was used to evaluate the performance regarding spatial accuracy, sensitivity to observationfrequency and combined use of multiple VIs. The canopy cover sensitive Normalized Difference FractionIndex (NDFI) was the most accurate. Among those tested, wetness related VIs (Normalized DifferenceMoisture Index (NDMI) and the Tasselled Cap wetness (TCw)) were spatially more accurate than green-ness related VIs (Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI) and Tasselled Cap greenness (TCg)).When VIs were fused on feature level, spatial accuracy was improved and overestimation of changereduced. NDVI and NDFI produced the most robust results when observation frequency varies.

Keywords: Vegetation indices; Accuracy assessment; BFAST monitor; Deforestation; Landsat; Time series analysis.