Skip to Main Content
The advent of routine collection of high-quality digital photography provides for traditional uses, as well as “remote sensing” uses such as the monitoring of environmental indicators. A well-devised monitoring system, based on consistent data and methods, provides the opportunity to track and communicate changes in features of interest in a way that has not previously been possible. Data that are geometrically and radiometrically consistent are fundamental to establishing systems for monitoring. In this paper, we focus on models for the radiometric calibration of mosaics consisting of thousands of images. We apply the models to the data acquired by the Australian Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation and its partners as part of regular systematic acquisitions over the city of Perth for a project known as Urban Monitor. One goal of the project, and hence the model development, is to produce annually updated mosaics calibrated to reflectance at 0.2-m ground sample distance for an area of approximately 9600 km2. This equates to terabytes of data and, for frame-based instruments, tens of thousands of images. For the experiments considered in this paper, this requires mosaicking estimates derived from 3000 digital photographic frames, and the methods will shortly be expanded to 30 000+ frames. A key part of the processing is the removal of spectral variation due to the viewing geometry, typically attributed to the bidirectional reflectance distribution function (BRDF) of the land surface. A variety of techniques based on semiempirical BRDF kernels have been proposed in the literature for correcting the BRDF effect in single frames, but mosaics with many frames provide unique challenges. This paper presents and illuminates a complete empirical radiometric calibration method for digital aerial frame mosaics, based on a combined model that uses kernel-based techniques for BRDF correction and incorporates additive and multi- licative terms for correcting other effects, such as variations due to the sensor and atmosphere. Using ground truth, which consists of laboratory-measured white, gray, and black targets that were placed in the field at the time of acquisition, we calculate the fundamental limitations of each model, leading to an optimal result for each model type. We demonstrate estimates of ground reflectance that are accurate to approximately 10%, 5%, and 3% absolute reflectances for ground targets having reflectances of 90%, 40%, and 4%, respectively.