Overview of intercalibration of satellite instruments

IEEE Transactions on Geoscience and Remote Sensing
By: , and 



Inter-calibration of satellite instruments is critical for detection and quantification of changes in the Earth’s environment, weather forecasting, understanding climate processes, and monitoring climate and land cover change. These applications use data from many satellites; for the data to be inter-operable, the instruments must be cross-calibrated. To meet the stringent needs of such applications requires that instruments provide reliable, accurate, and consistent measurements over time. Robust techniques are required to ensure that observations from different instruments can be normalized to a common scale that the community agrees on. The long-term reliability of this process needs to be sustained in accordance with established reference standards and best practices. Furthermore, establishing physical meaning to the information through robust Système International d'unités (SI) traceable Calibration and Validation (Cal/Val) is essential to fully understand the parameters under observation. The processes of calibration, correction, stability monitoring, and quality assurance need to be underpinned and evidenced by comparison with “peer instruments” and, ideally, highly calibrated in-orbit reference instruments. Inter-calibration between instruments is a central pillar of the Cal/Val strategies of many national and international satellite remote sensing organizations. Inter-calibration techniques as outlined in this paper not only provide a practical means of identifying and correcting relative biases in radiometric calibration between instruments but also enable potential data gaps between measurement records in a critical time series to be bridged. Use of a robust set of internationally agreed upon and coordinated inter-calibration techniques will lead to significant improvement in the consistency between satellite instruments and facilitate accurate monitoring of the Earth’s climate at uncertainty levels needed to detect and attribute the mechanisms of change. This paper summarizes the state-of-the-art of post-launch radiometric calibration of remote sensing satellite instruments, through inter-calibration.

Additional publication details

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Overview of intercalibration of satellite instruments
Series title IEEE Transactions on Geoscience and Remote Sensing
DOI 10.1109/TGRS.2012.2228654
Volume 51
Issue 3
Year Published 2013
Language English
Publisher IEEE
Publisher location Washington, D.C.
Contributing office(s) Earth Resources Observation and Science (EROS) Center
Description 25 p.
Larger Work Type Article
Larger Work Subtype Journal Article
Larger Work Title IEEE Transactions on Geoscience and Remote Sensing
First page 1056
Last page 1080