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Spectral Mixture Analysis for Subpixel Vegetation Fractions in the Urban Environment: How to Incorporate Endmember Variability?


Song, Conghe H. (2005). Spectral Mixture Analysis for Subpixel Vegetation Fractions in the Urban Environment: How to Incorporate Endmember Variability?. Remote Sensing of Environment, 95(2), 248-263.


In the urban environment both quality of life and surface biophysical processes are closely related to the presence of vegetation. Spectral mixture analysis (SMA) has been frequently used to derive subpixel vegetation information from remotely sensed imagery in urban areas, where the underlying landscapes are assumed to be composed of a few fundamental components, called endmembers. A critical step in SMA is to identify the endmembers and their corresponding spectral signatures. A common practice in SMA assumes a constant spectral signature for each endmember. In fact, the spectral signatures of endmembers may vary from pixel to pixel due to changes in biophysical (e.g. leaves, stems and bark) and biochemical (e.g. chlorophyll content) composition. This study developed a Bayesian Spectral Mixture Analysis (BSMA) model to understand the impact of endmember variability on the derivation of subpixel vegetation fractions in an urban environment. BSMA incorporates endmember spectral variability in the unmixing process based on Bayes Theorem. In traditional SMA, each endmember is represented by a constant signature, while BSMA uses the endmember signature probability distribution in the analysis. BSMA has the advantage of maximally capturing the spectral variability of an image with the least number of endmembers. In this study, the BSMA model is first applied to simulated images, and then to Ikonos and Landsat ETM+ images. BSMA leads to an improved estimate of subpixel vegetation fractions, and provides uncertainty information for the estimates. The study also found that the traditional SMA using the statistical means of the signature distributions as endmember signatures produces subpixel endmember fractions with almost the same and sometimes even better accuracy than those from BSMA except without uncertainty information for the estimates. However, using the modes of signature distributions as endmembers may result in serious bias in subpixel endmember fractions derived from traditional SMA. (c) 2005 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


Reference Type

Journal Article

Year Published


Journal Title

Remote Sensing of Environment


Song, Conghe H.