We evaluated the initial 12 months of vegetation index product availability from the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on board the Earth Observing System-Terra platform. Two MODIS vegetation indices (VI), the normalized difference vegetation index (NDVI) and enhanced vegetation index (EVI), are produced at 1-km and 500-m resolutions and 16-day compositing periods. This paper presents an initial analysis of the MODIS NDVI and EVI performance from both radiometric and biophysical perspectives. We utilize a combination of site-intensive and regionally extensive approaches to demonstrate the performance and validity of the two indices. Our results showed a good correspondence between airborne-measured, top-of-canopy reflectances and VI values with those from the MODIS sensor at four intensively measured test sites representing semi-arid grass/shrub, savanna, and tropical forest biomes. Simultaneously derived field biophysical measures also demonstrated the scientific utility of the MODIS VI. Multitemporal profiles of the MODIS VIs over numerous biome types in North and South America well represented their seasonal phenologies. Comparisons of the MODIS-NDVI with the NOAA-14, 1-km AVHRR-NDVI temporal profiles showed that the MODIS-based index performed with higher fidelity. The dynamic range of the MODIS VIs are presented and their sensitivities in discriminating vegetation differences are evaluated in sparse and dense vegetation areas. We found the NDVI to asymptotically saturate in high biomass regions such as in the Amazon while the EVI remained sensitive to canopy variations. © 2002 Elsevier Science Inc. All rights reserved.
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