On the nature of models in remote sensing

  • Strahler A
  • Woodcock C
  • Smith J
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Abstract

An explicit framework can provide a better understanding of remote sensing models and their interrelationships. This framework distinguishes between the scene, which is real and exists on the ground, and the image, which is a collection of spatially arranged measurements drawn from the scene. The scene model generalizes and parameterizes the essential qualities of the scene. Scene models may be discrete, in which the scene model consists of discrete elements with boundaries, or continuous, in which matter and energy flows are taken to be continuous and there are no clear or sharp boundaries in the scene. In the discrete case, there are two possibilities for models: H- and L-resolution. In the H-resolution case, the resolution cells of the image are smaller than the elements, and thus the elements may be individually resolved. In the L-resolution case, the resolution cells are larger than the elements and cannot be resolved. Most canopy models are L-resolution, deterministic, and noninvertible in nature; image processing models, however, tend to be H-resolution, empirical, and invertible. This taxonomy helps add insight to the development of remote sensing theory and point the way to new, productive areas of research. © 1986.

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Authors

  • Alan H. Strahler

  • Curtis E. Woodcock

  • James A. Smith

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