1772 IEEE TRANSACTIONS ON GEOSCIENCE AND REMOTE SENSING, VOL. 52, NO. 3, MARCH 2014
A Real-Time MODIS Vegetation Product for Land
Surface and Numerical Weather Prediction Models
Jonathan L. Case, Frank J. LaFontaine, Jordan R. Bell, Gary J. Jedlovec,
Sujay V. Kumar, and Christa D. Peters-Lidard
Abstract— A technique is presented to produce real-time, daily
vegetation composites at 0.01° resolution (∼1 km) over the
Conterminous United States (CONUS) for use in the NASA
Land Information System (LIS) and weather prediction models.
Green vegetation fraction (GVF) is derived from direct-broadcast
swaths of normalized difference vegetation index from the Mod-
erate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) aboard
the NASA Earth Observing System satellites. The real-time data
and increased resolution compared to the 0.144° (∼16 km)
resolution monthly GVF climatology in community models result
in an improved representation of vegetation in high-resolution
models, especially in complex terrain. The MODIS GVF ﬁelds
show seasonal variations that are similar to the community
model climatology, and respond realistically to temperature and
precipitation anomalies. The wet spring and summer 2010 over
the U.S. Plains led to higher regional GVF than in the climatology.
The GVF substantially decreased over the U.S. Southern Plains
from 2010 to 2011, consistent with the transition to extreme
drought in summer 2011. LIS simulations depict substantial
sensitivity to the MODIS GVF, with regional changes in heat
ﬂuxes around 100 Wm−2over the northern U.S. in June 2010.
CONUS LIS simulations during the 2010 warm season indicate
that the larger MODIS GVF in the western U.S. led to higher
latent heat ﬂuxes and initially lower sensible heat ﬂuxes, with a
net drying effect on the soil. With time, the drier soil eventually
lead to higher mean sensible heat ﬂuxes such that the total surface
energy output increased by late summer 2010 over the western
U.S. A sensitivity simulation of a severe weather event using
real-time MODIS GVF data results in systematic changes to low-
level temperature, moisture, and instability ﬁelds, and improves
the evolution of simulated precipitation.
Manuscript received June 1, 2012; revised November 26, 2012 and March 7,
2013; accepted March 11, 2013. Date of publication May 24, 2013; date
of current version December 17, 2013. This work was supported in part
by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) Modeling
Analysis and Prediction Solicitation under Grant NNH08ZDA001N-MAP (PI:
Peters-Lidard/ Goddard Space Flight Center), and the NASA Science Mission
Directorate’s Earth Science Division in support of the Short-term Prediction
Research and Transition Center at the NASA Marshall Space Flight Center.
J. L. Case is with the NASA Short-term Prediction Research and Tran-
sition (SPoRT) Center, ENSCO, Inc., Huntsville, AL 35805 USA (e-mail:
F. J. LaFontaine is with the NASA Short-term Prediction Research and
Transition (SPoRT) Center, Raytheon, Huntsville, AL 35824 USA (e-mail:
J. R. Bell is with the Atmospheric Science Department, University of
Missouri, Columbia, MO 65211 USA (e-mail: email@example.com).
G. J. Jedlovec is with the NASA Marshall Space Flight Center/Short-term
Prediction Research and Transition (SPoRT) Center, Huntsville, AL 35805
USA (e-mail: Gary.Jedlovec@nasa.gov).
S. V. Kumar is with the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Science
Applications International Corporation, Greenbelt, MD 20771 USA (e-mail:
C. D. Peters-Lidard is with the Department of HSB, NASA Goddard Space
Flight Center, Greenbelt, MD 20771 USA (e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org).
Color versions of one or more of the ﬁgures in this paper are available
online at http://ieeexplore.ieee.org.
Digital Object Identiﬁer 10.1109/TGRS.2013.2255059
Index Terms—Geoscience–Atmosphere–Atmospheric model-
ing, Geoscience–Land surface, Vegetation mapping.
EVAPOTRANSPIRATION from vegetative surfaces is an
important process that impacts the transport of moisture
into the atmosphere especially during the warm season. Vege-
tation coverage and health are commonly measured by polar-
orbiting satellites through the normalized difference vegetation
index (NDVI). The NDVI is based on the properties of healthy
vegetation, which has a high absorbance/low reﬂectance in
the visible portion (photosynthetically active region) of the
electromagnetic spectrum while having a high reﬂectance at
the near-IR (NIR) wavelengths. The NDVI is deﬁned as the
combination of these reﬂectances
NDVI =ρNIR −ρRED
ρNIR +ρRED (1)
where ρNIR is the reﬂectance at NIR wavelengths
(0.75–1.5 μm) and ρRED is the reﬂectance at visible-
red wavelengths (0.6–0.7 μm). One of the ﬁrst uses of this
channel combination as an index to denote green vegetation
was presented in . NDVI ranges from −1to+1, where
values near 0 indicate little to no healthy vegetation while
negative values typically correspond to snow/ice cover under
clear skies, or to cloudy conditions. Depending on the
vegetation cover, type, and satellite footprint, NDVI values of
∼0.4–0.8 represent areas with near full coverage of healthy
Vegetation indices such as green vegetation fraction (GVF)
and leaf area index (LAI) are used by land surface models
(LSMs) to represent the horizontal and vertical density of plant
vegetation  in order to calculate transpiration, interception
and radiative shading. Latent heat ﬂux from vegetation is
directly proportional to the value of GVF and strongly related
to LAI. Both of these indices are related to NDVI; however,
there is the problem of solving the two unknowns simultane-
ously from one NDVI measurement, as described in . One
practice is to specify the LAI while allowing the GVF to vary
both spatially and temporally, as is done in the Noah LSM
, . Operational versions of Noah within the National
Centers for EnvironmentalPrediction (NCEP) North American
Mesoscale model , , the Global Forecast System model
, , the Climate Forecast System version 2 (CFS; ), and
the Climate Forecast System Reanalysis (CFSR)  hold the
LAI ﬁxed, while the GVF varies according to a global monthly
climatology. The same approach and GVF climatology are
0196-2892 © 2013 IEEE
CASE et al.: REAL-TIME MODIS VEGETATION PRODUCT 1773
also used for the North America Land Data Assimilation
System (NLDAS) ,  and the Global LDAS coupled to
CFSR . This GVF climatology was derived from NDVI
data on the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administra-
tion (NOAA) Advanced Very High Resolution Radiometer
(AVHRR) polar orbiting satellite, using information from 1985
to 1991 , . Representing data at the mid-point of
every month, the climatology is on a 0.144° (∼16 km) grid
and is distributed with the community weather research and
forecasting (WRF) model , , .
A limitation of the climatological dataset is that the annual
cycle of GVF is always represented the same in models from
one year to the next. In reality, the response of vegetation to
meteorological and climate conditions varies between seasons
and years based on anomalous weather and climate features.
For example, extreme events such as an unusual hard freeze,
late bloom due to colder than average temperatures, or drought
can lead to a vegetative response that is quite different than the
climatological representation. In addition, the dated informa-
tion (1985–1991) used to create the default GVF climatology,
coupled with the relatively coarse spatial resolution may not
be representative of current vegetative conditions in today’s
high-resolution numerical weather prediction (NWP) models.
Recent land use changes due to urban sprawl  may also
contribute to misrepresentations in the models.
To improve the representation of vegetation in LSMs and
NWP models, the NASA Short-term Prediction Research and
Transition (SPoRT) program created a high resolution, real-
time GVF composite that is updated on a daily basis with
near real-time, direct-broadcast NDVI swath data from the
Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS)
instruments aboard the NASA Earth Observing System Aqua
and Terra satellites. The SPoRT program specializes in transi-
tioning unique NASA, NOAA, and Department of Defense
satellite data and research capabilities to the operational
weather community to improve short-term weather forecasts
on regional and local scales. Several of these products have
been evaluated and transitioned for use in real-time local
and regional weather modeling applications, including a sea
surface temperature composite ,  and the use of the
NASA Land Information System (LIS) ,  for initializ-
ing land surface variables at high spatial resolution , .
The MODIS GVF dataset is another example of a real-time
SPoRT product designed to beneﬁt short-term forecasting in
the operational weather community.
Previous studies have examined near real-time vegetation
datasets derived from the NOAA/AVHRR satellite  and
demonstrated their potential utility for real-time modeling
–. Other studies have examined vegetation datasets
derived from the NASA MODIS instruments for modeling
applications , . This paper describes a Contermi-
nous U.S. (CONUS)-scale, 0.01° resolution (∼1 km), real-
time MODIS NDVI/GVF product to run in place of the
coarser-resolution climatological GVF currently implemented
in community models. The dataset is designed for regional,
convection-allowing resolution modeling applications over
the CONUS  using the LIS and coupled LIS/NASA
Uniﬁed-WRF (NU-WRF) modeling system. It has also been
transitioned to the community WRF model used for local mod-
eling applications at NOAA/National Weather Service forecast
ofﬁces . The remainder of this paper is organized as fol-
lows: Section II describes the real-time MODIS vegetation and
product generation; Section III provides a brief background on
the LIS modeling system; Section IV presents comparisons
between the real-time MODIS and AVHRR climatology GVF,
and impacts on LIS/Noah LSM runs and NWP simulations
using NU-WRF. A summary is given in Section V, followed
by acknowledgements and references.
II. MODIS REAL-TIME VEGETATION
COMPOSITE DATASE T
A. MODIS NDVI Compositing Algorithm
MODIS NDVI composites are created and updated daily
on a CONUS grid with 0.01° spacing (∼1 km), based on the
NDVI swath data obtained from the University of Wiscon-
sin/Space Science and Engineering Center’s MODIS direct
broadcast data stream . The NDVI data are produced
with software based on the MODIS science team algorithms
and implemented for real-time data processing by the NASA
Direct Readout Laboratory at NASA Goddard Space Flight
Center as part of a suite of atmospheric and land prod-
ucts generated by the International MODIS/AIRS Process-
ing Package (IMAPP) (http://cimss.ssec.wisc.edu/imapp/). The
NDVI swaths are derived using the corrected reﬂectance
algorithm developed by the MODIS rapid response sys-
tem (http://lance.nasa.gov/tools/rapid-response/), but do not
account for atmospheric correction due to particulate aerosols
(e.g., ). To remove cloud contamination, MODIS cloud
mask information available from the suite of real-time products
is used to identify cloud-free regions in the compositing
The NDVI compositing technique follows a similar method-
ology to that used in the ﬁrst-generation SPoRT sea surface
temperature (SST) compositing algorithm, which was solely
based on MODIS infrared and cloud-mask data over oceans
and large water bodies . This technique generated SST
composites by obtaining a minimum of three cloud-free read-
ings at each pixel for a given collection period (typically ∼20
days), and then averaging the two warmest values to represent
SST at that pixel. To generate a single daily NDVI composite,
each cloud-masked MODIS swath is individually mapped to
the CONUS grid using utilities within the Man computer
Interactive Data Access System . Negative NDVI values
are set to missing during the mapping step. In order to produce
a nearly continuous NDVI grid, an inverse time-weighting
algorithm is applied to the mapped swath data that queries
the previous 20 days for up to six pieces of NDVI data, using
the following formula:
where mis the number of NDVI values at a given pixel i,
NDVInis the data value at day n, and DaysAgonis the age of
1774 IEEE TRANSACTIONS ON GEOSCIENCE AND REMOTE SENSING, VOL. 52, NO. 3, MARCH 2014
day nprior to the current day. The inﬂuence of data near the
edge of the swath, which may have small uncorrected biases
because of atmospheric effects, is minimized through the use
of the multitemporal and multisatellite data at each point in
the compositing process. In situations where m=0, NDVIi
is set to missing.
The geographical extent of the NDVI grid ranges from
northern Mexico to southern Canada and includes all of the
CONUS. SPoRT has been producing these daily, real-time
composites since 1 June 2010. The daily NDVI grids are then
processed in the next step to derive GVF for use by LSMs
and NWP models.
B. Calculation of GVF for Use in Models
The GVF is calculated from the MODIS NDVI composites
on the identical 0.01° (∼1 km) grid following the procedures
outlined in  and . For consistency with MODIS data,
the International Geosphere-Biosphere Programme (IGBP)
land-use classiﬁcation  as applied to the MODIS instru-
ment  is used in the GVF calculation. The GVF is
computed by ﬁrst determining the maximum NDVI at each
grid point (NDVImax)using the collection of daily NDVI
composites from 1 June 2010 to 1 Feb 2012 for both archived
and subsequent real-time GVF computations. The NDVImax
values are sorted as a function of the IGBP/MODIS land use
class by combining all grid points with the same land use
class into a single distribution, in order to identify the 90th
percentile of NDVImax for each land use class (representing
full vegetation coverage), and the ﬁfth percentile for the
barren land use class (representing zero coverage). Results
are insensitive to the exact percentile selected to represent the
NDVImax value for full vegetation coverage , . The
GVF at each grid point iis then computed as
where NDVIiis the NDVI composite value at grid point
ifrom (2), NDVISis a global constant given by the ﬁfth
percentile of NDVImax for the barren land use class, and
NDVIV,iis the 90th percentile of NDVImax values for the land
use class Vat grid point i. As NDVI composites are collected
over a longer time period, the NDVImax can be periodically
updated to reﬂect subtle variations in the distributions of
NDVImax by land use class.
At this stage, any remaining pixels with missing NDVI
data are ﬁlled with time-interpolated monthly climatological
GVF data for the present day, thereby ensuring a continuous
GVF grid for use in models (mainly impacting snow-covered
pixels). The percentage of pixels in a given composite ﬁlled
with the GVF climatology ranged from 1% or less from June–
October to about 35% in February 2011 when snow cover was
at maximum extent over the domain. This data ﬁlling produced
no visual discontinuities in the warm season, but did result in
some noticeable discontinuities between the detailed MODIS
and the smooth climatology during winter months when snow
cover was most extensive. However, since evapotranspiration
is much less substantial in the surface energy budget during
the winter months (especially in snow-covered regions), the
impact of data ﬁlling should be minimal with the affected
grid points simply reverting back to the climatological GVF
To incorporate the real-time MODIS GVF into the LIS and
NU-WRF models, a new module was written within LIS to
read and process the daily MODIS GVF dataset in place of
the monthly climatological GVF database. The new module
enables the use of daily MODIS GVF in both retrospective
ofﬂine LIS and coupled LIS/NU-WRF simulations. The real-
time MODIS GVF is also available to the community WRF
model by re-formatting the data to be consistent with that of
the static input datasets of the WRF model. The much higher
spatial resolution (∼1kmversus∼16 km) and daily updates
based on real-time satellite observations have the capability
to improve the simulation of the surface energy budget as
demonstrated in Section IV, and in previous studies using
actual AVHRR GVF data , –.
III. LAND INFORMATION SYSTEM
The LIS is a high-performance land surface modeling
and data assimilation system that integrates satellite-derived
datasets, ground-based observations, and model re-analyses to
force a variety of LSMs. By using scalable, high-performance
computing and data management technologies, LIS can run
LSMs ofﬂine globally with a grid spacing as ﬁne as 1 km to
characterize land surface states and ﬂuxes.
To demonstrate impact on land surface ﬂuxes, control and
experimental versions of LIS were conﬁgured to run the Noah
LSM using the IGBP/MODIS land-use classiﬁcation, with
all static and dynamic land surface ﬁelds masked based on
the IGBP/MODIS land-sea mask. The soil properties were
represented by the State Soil Geographic (STATSGO) 
database. Additional parameters for the LIS/Noah runs include
monthly climatologies of albedo , a 0.05° resolution
maximum snow surface albedo derived from MODIS ,
the default AVHRR-based monthly GVF climatology in the
control LIS simulation , and a deep soil temperature
climatology (serving as a lower boundary condition for the
soil layers) at 3 m below ground, derived from 6 years of
NCEP Global Data Assimilation System (GDAS) 3-hourly
averaged 2-m air temperatures using the method described
in . The motivation behind selecting the LIS parameters
described above is to use the same parameters as run in routine
operational land analyses at NCEP.
IV. ASSESSMENT OF REAL-TIME MODIS GVF
A. Comparison of Real-Time MODIS and Climatology GVF
Fig. 1 shows a sample comparison between the real-
time MODIS and AVHRR climatology GVF datasets from
17 July 2010. This day was selected to demonstrate the
increased resolution as well as how the real-time MODIS
GVF adjusts to regional precipitation anomalies. On this
day, the MODIS GVF values tended to be higher than the
time-interpolated AVHRR climatology in the western half of
the domain, especially over the High Plains from Texas to
Canada. The MODIS GVF provided much greater detail and
spatial variability in the complex terrain of the intermountain
CASE et al.: REAL-TIME MODIS VEGETATION PRODUCT 1775
Fig. 1. Depiction of the GVF on the CONUS domain for the (a) AVHRR-
based monthly climatology time-interpolated to 17 July, (b) SPoRT/MODIS
GVF from 17 July 2010, and (c) difference (MODIS – Climatology). Panel
(c) shows the quadrants of the domain used for the analysis in Section IV.
west. The improved resolution provided by MODIS and the
compositing approach helps to explain why many narrow strips
of positive GVF differences occurred in the west. The AVHRR
climatology dataset depicts GVF over much larger grid cells
than the MODIS product (∼200 times larger), thus averaging
out many of the horizontal variations related to the complex
terrain. As a result, the more heavily-vegetated corridors at
higher elevations are often too small to be resolved by the
16-km climatology product, and thereby take on a lower mean
GVF value largely based on the surrounding low-elevation
desert regions. Meanwhile, the real-time MODIS GVF is able
Fig. 2. Departure from average precipitation (in percent; available
from the National Weather Service River Forecast Center analyses at
http://water.weather.gov/precip/) during 2010 for the months of (a) May,
(b) June, and (c) July. Regions of substantially above-average precipitation
are highlighted each month in the white outlines.
to resolve the heavily-vegetated foothills and mountainous
regions. A good example can be seen in the GVF differ-
ence in the Sierra Nevada range in east-central California
[Fig. 1(c)]. Elsewhere, slightly lower GVF occurred in regional
patches across the eastern U.S. and southeastern Canada, with
otherwise minor differences prevailing.
The higher GVF over the High Plains resulted from substan-
tial positive precipitation anomalies from May to July 2010.
Fig. 2(a) shows that much of the northern High Plains experi-
enced very substantial rainfall anomalies during May, ranging
from 150% to as much as 600% of normal rainfall, especially
from northeastern Montana to western South Dakota. The
month of June 2010 saw much of the same, but with a
southerly shift in the maximum positive rainfall anomaly into
the Central Plains [Fig. 2(b)]. In July [Fig. 2(c)], very large
precipitation anomalies shifted to the Southern Plains as a
result of early season tropical activity affecting Texas. The
1776 IEEE TRANSACTIONS ON GEOSCIENCE AND REMOTE SENSING, VOL. 52, NO. 3, MARCH 2014
Fig. 3. Correspondence between the SPoRT/MODIS one-year GVF change
and U.S. Drought Monitor product from summer 2010 to 2011 (a) one-year
GVFdifference(2Aug.2011–2Aug.2010), (b) U.S. Drought Monitor
product issued 3 August 2010, and (c) U.S. Drought Monitor product issued
2 August 2011.
higher real-time MODIS GVF are consistent with the positive
rainfall anomalies, as NDVI has been found to have a strong
correlation to antecedent precipitation in the preceding weeks
and months over the U.S. Central Plains .
The real-time MODIS GVF also responded in the opposite
sense during 2011, associated with the onset of intense heat
and severe drought during the summer months in the U.S.
Southern Plains. The one-year change in MODIS GVF valid
on 2 August 2011 shows a marked decrease across much of
Texas, Oklahoma, and southern Kansas [Fig. 3(a)]. At the
same time in the previous year, the U.S. Drought Monitor
product essentially depicted no abnormally dry or drought con-
ditions across the U.S. Southern Plains [Fig. 3(b), except for
Fig. 4. MODIS-based IGBP land use classiﬁcation over the real-time GVF
CONUS domain, according to the scale provided at the bottom. Some low-
coverage categories are grouped together for simplicity sake.
Fig. 5. Time series of daily MODIS GVF and time-interpolated AVHRR
climatological GVF from 1 June 2010 to 1 January 2012 by land use
classiﬁcation. Land use classes and the percent coverage in the CONUS
domain include (a) Grassland, (b) Cropland, (c) Open Shrubs, (d) Mixed
Forest, (e) Evergreen Needleleaf, (f) Deciduous Broadleaf, (g) Barren/Sparse,
and (h) Urban/Built-Up.
a small regional drought in parts of Louisiana and Arkansas].
The drought status changed dramatically by early August
2011, with the U.S. Drought Monitor product indicating
widespread D4 drought conditions from New Mexico eastward
to Louisiana [Fig. 3(c)]. The area of negative one-year GVF
CASE et al.: REAL-TIME MODIS VEGETATION PRODUCT 1777
Fig. 6. Departure from average temperature (°F, source: High Plains Regional Climate Center at http://www.hprcc.unl.edu/maps/current/) for the time periods
of (a) September to November 2010, (b) December 2010, (c) March to May 2011, and (d) October to December 2011.
differences coincides with much of the 2 August 2011 D4
region (with the exception of sparsely-vegetated New Mexico).
This analysis demonstrates the need for a real-time GVF
product in models that can represent inter-annual vegetation
changes in response to regional climate anomalies.
Time series plots of the real-time MODIS versus AVHRR
climatological GVF are presented for several of the
IGBP/MODIS land use classes (Fig. 4) during 2010 and 2011
to compare the seasonal progressions of GVF. The time series
comparisons of the land use classes with the greatest coverage
on the CONUS domain of Fig. 4 are highlighted in Fig. 5. The
seasonal march of GVF compared similarly among most veg-
etation classes and dates, with a few noteworthy exceptions.
The real-time MODIS mixed forest and deciduous broadleaf
categories [Fig. 5(d), (f)] had slightly damped seasonal cycles
relative to the AVHRR climatology, whereas the cropland and
evergreen needleleaf experienced comparable magnitudes in
seasonal change [Fig. 5(b), (e)].
The shrubs category [Fig. 5(c)] had the largest systematic
change, with an increase in GVF over the AVHRR climatology
of ∼0.15–0.20 in the real-time MODIS product, especially
during summer 2010. This behavior is consistent with the
results of , who found that MODIS NDVI were con-
sistently higher than AVHRR NDVI over semi-arid regions.
These results are further supported by , who compared
MODIS to AVHRR NDVI and found that during the grow-
ing season, MODIS NDVI exhibited greater sensitivity and
dynamic range than AVHRR NDVI due to the inﬂuence of
atmospheric water vapor on the AVHRR NIR band. The
narrower MODIS NIR band is more impervious to the water
vapor absorption portion of the spectrum, whereas the AVHRR
NIR band is strongly affected by water vapor absorption,
leading to lower NDVI values particularly during the humid
growing season .
The grassland class [Fig. 5(a), most prevalent over the High
Plains in Fig. 4] was also systematically higher during the
warm seasons, especially summer 2010 when high rainfall
anomalies occurred in this region. The cropland, barren, and
urban vegetation categories [Fig. 5(b), (g), and (h)] had the
most consistent seasonal comparison between the AVHRR
climatology and real-time MODIS GVF. This is particularly
true for the cropland category, likely attributed to consistent
farming practices and irrigation that yields similar signals in
NDVI from year to year.
A noteworthy feature in the time series charts is the apparent
phase shift in the MODIS GVF seasonal response relative to
the AVHRR climatology, which appears related to temperature
anomalies. First, the Autumn 2010 months were considerably
above average in temperature across much of the CONUS
[Fig. 6(a)], which likely contributed to a delayed decrease
in the MODIS GVF, most notable in the mixed forest and
needleleaf categories [Fig. 5(d) and (e)]. This was followed by
a precipitous drop in temperatures during December 2010 over
the northern and eastern U.S. [Fig. 6(b)] leading to the sharp
drop in MODIS GVF in the forest categories [Fig. 5(d)–(f)].
Second, cooler-than-average temperatures prevailed across the
northern and western U.S. in Spring 2011 [Fig. 6(c)], possibly
contributing to the slight lag seen in the evergreen needleleaf
category that predominates the northwest portion of the U.S.
[Figs. 4 and 5(e)]. Third, warmer-than-average temperatures
1778 IEEE TRANSACTIONS ON GEOSCIENCE AND REMOTE SENSING, VOL. 52, NO. 3, MARCH 2014
occurred once again during the Autumn 2011 months (espe-
cially in the northern U.S. [Fig. 6(d)] helping to slow the
decline of MODIS GVF relative to the climatology in the
forest categories [Fig. 5(d)–(f)].
B. Impact on LIS-Noah Ofﬂine Model Runs
To illustrate the impact of real-time MODIS GVF data,
LIS was conﬁgured to run version 2.7.1 of the Noah LSM
at 1-km grid spacing in an uncoupled, or ofﬂine mode using
climatology GVF versus real-time MODIS GVF during the
2010 warm season. First, a limited time-space simulation
comparison was made over an area of complex terrain centered
on Montana during June 2010 to show the impact of enhanced
MODIS resolution on the spatial distribution of ﬂuxes. Second,
LIS was run for the entire 2010 warm season (June to October)
over the real-time MODIS GVF domain, decomposed into
the four quadrants shown in Fig. 1(c) to examine the mean
impact of the MODIS GVF in each region. For the full-
domain simulations, LIS was cold-started on 1 June 2008
with a uniform ﬁrst-guess soil temperature and volumetric soil
moisture of 290 K and 25%, respectively, in all soil layers.
LIS-Noah was integrated for two years to 1 June 2010, using
a time step of 30 min. A sufﬁciently long integration time,
or “spin-up,” is necessary to ensure that the model states
can reach a ﬁne-scale equilibrium with the forcing meteorol-
ogy , . During the two-year spin-up integration, the
AVHRR-based GVF climatology was used. After 0000 UTC
1 June 2010, the spin-up run was re-started for two separate
ofﬂine integrations, a control run that continued using the
AVHRR climatological GVF, and an experimental run that
employed the daily MODIS GVF during the period of study
from 0000 UTC 1 June to 0000 UTC 1 November 2010.
In all LIS runs, atmospheric analyses from GDAS
– provided the required input ﬁelds to drive the LSM
integrations. The GDAS forcing ﬁelds of downward-directed
longwave radiation, surface pressure, 2-m air temperature,
and 2-m speciﬁc humidity are corrected topographically via
lapse-rate and hypsometric adjustments using the elevation
data differences between the LIS and native GDAS forcing
The Montana high-resolution run reveals detailed differ-
ences between the AVHRR climatology and the real-time
MODIS GVF related to the ability to resolve complex terrain
features. The climatology appears quite smooth on this scale
showing a minimum in GVF over the prairies of eastern
Montana, northern Wyoming, western South Dakota, and
central Idaho [Fig. 7(a)]. A broad maximum exists along the
Montana-Idaho border associated with the high terrain along
the Continental Divide. Meanwhile, the MODIS GVF ﬁeld
shows much greater detail, able to resolve small river basins
with locally higher GVF and relatively lower GVF in the
higher mountain peaks in northwestern Wyoming and parts
of western Montana [Fig. 7(b) and (c)]. The difference ﬁeld
shows that the real-time MODIS data depict much higher GVF
along the High Plains in the western Dakotas, and eastern
Montana and Wyoming [Fig. 7(c)].
Fig. 7. Depiction of the GVF on a domain with 1-km grid spacing centered
on Montana at 1800 UTC 27 June 2010 for (a) monthly GVF climatology
time-interpolated to 27 June, (b) real-time daily MODIS GVF valid on 27 June
2010, and (c) difference (MODIS – Climatology).
These variations in GVF directly impact the surface energy
budget through the partitioning of sensible and latent heat
ﬂuxes. With the ability to better resolve the ridgetops, the
LIS-Noah run with the MODIS GVF depicted higher sensible
heat ﬂuxes and substantially lower latent heat ﬂuxes up to
100 Wm−2over the high terrain where the MODIS GVF was
lower than the AVHRR climatology (Fig. 8). Meanwhile, the
sensible and latent heat ﬂuxes were regionally altered by about
the same magnitude but the opposite sense over parts of the
CASE et al.: REAL-TIME MODIS VEGETATION PRODUCT 1779
Fig. 8. Differences in LIS-Noah simulated heat ﬂuxes (Wm−2, MODIS GVF
run minus AVHRR Climatology GVF run) valid at 1800 UTC 27 June 2010
for (a) sensible heat ﬂux and (b) latent heat ﬂux.
High Plains where the MODIS GVF was higher. Worth noting
in the difference ﬁeld is the amount of local, detailed variations
consistent with the terrain elevation features of this region (not
A comparison of the real-time MODIS and AVHRR cli-
matology GVF on the full domain, broken up into the four
regions in Fig. 1(c), indicates that the MODIS GVF values
were on average higher than the AVHRR climatology in the
western half of the domain (Fig. 9). The northeast quad-
rant MODIS GVF means were slightly below the AVHRR
climatology GVF during July and August, then transitioned
to higher GVF by late summer and autumn. There were no
obvious weather anomalies in the northeast associated with
the lower summer GVF; however, the autumn featured well
above average temperatures across much of the eastern U.S.
[Fig. 6(a)], which likely caused the slower decline in the
real-time MODIS GVF relative to the AVHRR climatology.
The MODIS GVF remained closest to the climatology in the
southeast quadrant during most of the period of record. Like
the northeast quadrant, it was not until late in the warm season
when the MODIS GVF became consistently higher than the
The differences in the GVF datasets impacted the mean
surface ﬂuxes and soil moisture output from the ofﬂine
Fig. 9. Comparison of the time-interpolated AVHRR monthly climatology
to the 2010 daily MODIS GVF, spatially-averaged over the four quadrants
depicted in Fig. 1(c). (a) Northwest. (b) Northeast. (c) Southwest. (d)
Fig. 10. Daily difference (MODIS – AVHRR Climatology) in the mean
sensible heat ﬂux (solid lines), latent heat ﬂux (dashed lines), and ground
heat ﬂux (dotted lines) in LIS-Noah for the peak heating time period of
1800–2100 UTC, valid over the four quadrants depicted in Fig. 1(c).
(a) Northwest. (b) Northeast. (c) Southwest. (d) Southeast.
LIS-Noah integration. When the MODIS GVF was higher
than the AVHRR climatology, the mean 3-hourly latent heat
ﬂuxes during peak daytime heating (i.e., 1800 to 2100 UTC)
increased by up to 30 Wm−2, especially in the western half
of the domain (Fig. 10). The increase in the latent heat ﬂux
resulted from the additional evapotranspiration due to the
higher coverage of healthy vegetation.
According to the surface energy balance equation
Rnet =Qh+Qle +Qg(4)
the net incoming radiation at the surface (Rnet ) is balanced
by the sensible heat ﬂux (Qh), latent heat ﬂux (Qle), and
heat ﬂux into the ground (Qg). Assuming negligible changes
in surface albedo and all other factors being the same (i.e.,
identical atmospheric forcing for both model runs), an increase
1780 IEEE TRANSACTIONS ON GEOSCIENCE AND REMOTE SENSING, VOL. 52, NO. 3, MARCH 2014
Fig. 11. Daily difference in the mean volumetric soil moisture (MODIS
– AVHRR Climatology) in the top three LIS-Noah layers (0–10 cm,
10–40 cm, and 40–100 cm), valid over the four quadrants depicted in Fig. 1(c).
(a) Northwest. (b) Northeast. (c) Southwest. (d) Southeast.
in latent heat ﬂux is offset by a corresponding decrease in
sensible heat ﬂux and/or ground heat ﬂux directed into the
soil, which is indeed the initial response during the peak
heating hours of 1800–2100 UTC over the western quadrants
[Fig. 10(a), (c)]. It should be noted that surface albedo was not
adjusted in these experiments due to changes in the input GVF,
nor was a dynamic surface albedo methodology implemented
into the ofﬂine simulations to modify albedo based on soil
moisture changes . Newer versions of the Noah LSM
(v3.0+) enable adjustments to the surface albedo based on
the input GVF and enhanced look-up table attributes, resulting
in an albedo ﬁeld consistent with the input GVF ﬁeld. The
typical effect is to increase the surface albedo when the GVF is
smaller, resulting in a reduction of the net radiation. Although
not presented in this paper, these effects were seen in the U.S.
Upper Midwest associated with the severe drought of summer
2012 when using the real-time MODIS GVF compared to the
climatology GVF within LIS-Noah.
The increase in latent heat ﬂux over the western half of
the domain had the most substantial impact on the volumetric
soil moisture. Fig. 11 shows the top three layers of mean
volumetric soil moisture, and how they responded to the
different GVF input. The soil dried more quickly in the
LIS-Noah run using MODIS GVF compared to the AVHRR
climatology, with volumetric soil moisture decreasing as much
as 0.015 (1.5%) or more. This more rapid soil drying was
a result of the increased mean latent heat ﬂux caused by
the higher vegetation coverage, thereby extracting moisture
more quickly from the soil, particularly in the root zone
layers of 10–40 cm and 40–100 cm. The eastern half of the
domain experienced only marginal changes in volumetric soil
moisture, generally less than 0.5% by the end of the warm
An intriguing result of the ofﬂine LIS-Noah runs occurred
in the two western quadrants toward the end of the warm
season. While the latent heat ﬂux remained higher in the
MODIS GVF simulations during the entire 2010 warm sea-
son [Fig. 10(a), (c)] because of the higher mean GVF
[Fig. 9(a), (c)], there was a distinct downward trend in the
difference ﬁelds beginning around 1 August in response to
the drier soil moisture in the MODIS GVF run. At the same
time, the mean sensible heat ﬂux differences transitioned from
negative to positive, and remained slightly positive for the
remainder of the study period [Fig. 10(a), (c)]. The overall
drier soils over the western quadrants in the MODIS GVF run
enabled a slight increase in the mean skin temperature (not
shown) since less energy was required to evaporate moisture
from the soil medium, thereby producing the net increase
in mean sensible heat ﬂux. The ground heat ﬂux remained
consistently lower in the MODIS GVF run [Fig. 10(a), (c)]
resulting in cooler overall soil temperatures, especially in the
top 0–10-cm layer (not shown). Consequently, the overall
energy output directed to the atmosphere in the LIS-Noah
run using the real-time MODIS GVF increased relative to the
AVHRR climatology LIS run by late summer 2010 over the
western U.S., due to the increase in mean GVF.
C. Impact on Simulation of a Severe Weather Event
To assess the potential impact in NWP models, a
convection-allowing conﬁguration of NU-WRF was employed
for sample severe weather events in 2010 and 2011. The
NU-WRF conﬁguration mimicked the WRF model as run in
real-time at the National Severe Storms Laboratory in support
of the NCEP Storm Prediction Center and NOAA/National
Weather Service forecast ofﬁces . In this paper, results are
highlighted from the 17 July 2010 severe weather event over
the U.S. Upper Midwest.
The NU-WRF was run on a single domain at 4-km horizon-
tal grid spacing over a CONUS domain (model conﬁguration
details summarized in Table I). Two separate NU-WRF sim-
ulations were made: a control run based on the climatology
GVF (hereafter “control”), and an experimental run based on
SPoRT-MODIS GVF (hereafter “MODIS”). Each simulation
was initialized at 0000 UTC 17 July and integrated out 36 h
covering the event of interest. To provide a proper land surface
initialization, a separate LIS-Noah spin-up simulation was
conducted over an identical 4-km CONUS domain as the
NU-WRF model conﬁguration. The Noah LSM was integrated
for 2 years prior to 1 June 2010 in the same manner as
described in the previous section. The ofﬂine LIS runs were
then continued beyond 1 June 2010 using the AVHRR clima-
tology and MODIS GVF data to provide LSM initialization
data. The control simulation was initialized with the GVF
climatology and land surface ﬁelds from the control ofﬂine
LIS, whereas the MODIS simulation was initialized with
SPoRT/MODIS GVF data and land surface data from the
ofﬂine LIS run incorporating the MODIS GVF.
The 17 July 2010 event featured an optimal scenario for
examining the sensitivity of the model to the new GVF dataset
in that surface heating was minimally impacted by prevailing
cloud cover prior to convective initiation. In the early morning
hours of 17 July, a low pressure center was located in
western North Dakota with a warm front extending east to
CASE et al.: REAL-TIME MODIS VEGETATION PRODUCT 1781
Fig. 12. Meteorological observations from 17 July 2010 showing (a) surface weather map analysis at 1200 UTC and (b) Storm Prediction Center storm
reports for the 24-h period ending 1200 UTC 18 July.
TAB L E I
NU-WRF MODEL CONFIGURATION DETAILS FOR THE 17 JULY 2010
SEVERE WEATHER CASE STUDY.DESCRIPTIONS OF THE INDIVIDUAL
PHYSICS PARAMETERIZATIONSCHEMES ARE FOUND IN 
WRF dynamical core Advanced Research WRF
Horizontal grid spacing 4.0 km
1200 ×800 points
Number of vertical
sigma levels 35
Integration time step 24 s
Initial and boundary
conditions NCEP NAM model
layer Mellor-Yamada-Janji´c scheme
Cloud microphysics WRF 6-class Single Moment (WSM6)
Rapid Radiative Transfer Model
central Minnesota [Fig. 12(a)]. The low moved east during
the day as the warm front lifted north. A dryline developed
in the western Dakotas and propagated eastward, leading
to the development of severe convection in an extremely
unstable environment over the eastern Dakotas by ∼2100 UTC
(surface-based convective available potential energy (CAPE)
−1). Several tornadoes and numerous
high wind and large hail reports occurred in the eastern
Dakotas, central Minnesota, Iowa, Nebraska, and northern
Missouri [Fig. 12(b)]. In particular, an exceptionally damaging
convective complex tracked southeastward from northeast
South Dakota, through Iowa, and into northeastern Missouri.
As will be seen, the use of the real-time MODIS GVF had a
positive impact on the evolution of this speciﬁc precipitation
Both the control and MODIS model runs produced very
little cloudiness during the several hours of peak solar heating.
Consequently, the differences in GVF over the sub-set region
of interest [Fig. 13(a)] translated almost directly into a change
Fig. 13. Difference ﬁelds from the 4-km NU-WRF model runs initialized
at 0000 UTC 17 July 2010 (MODIS – control) sub-set over the Upper
Midwest region, showing changes in (a) input GVF (%), (b) simulated sensible
−2), (c) simulated latent heat ﬂux at 19 h
−2), (d) simulated 2-m temperature at 21 h (°C), (e) simulated
2-m dewpoint temperature at 21 h (°C), and (f) simulated surface convective
available potential energy at 21 h (CAPE, J kg−1).
in the partitioning of the incoming shortwave radiation into
sensible and latent heat ﬂuxes. At the approximate time of
peak surface heating (1900 UTC, 19-h forecast), a reduction
in the sensible heat ﬂux of 50 Wm−2or more [Fig. 13(b)]
in conjunction with an increase in latent heat ﬂux up to
50–100 Wm−2[Fig. 13(c)] occurred in the eastern parts of
1782 IEEE TRANSACTIONS ON GEOSCIENCE AND REMOTE SENSING, VOL. 52, NO. 3, MARCH 2014
Fig. 14. (a) NU-WRF 1-h accumulated precipitation (mm) for the 27-h
forecast of the control run, (b) MODIS run, (c) difference (MODIS – control),
and (d) stage IV precipitation analysis, valid for the hour ending 0300 UTC
18 July 2010.
North Dakota, South Dakota, and Nebraska corresponding to
the 5–30% increase in GVF [Fig. 13(a)]. Similar changes of
the opposite sense were found in central/northern Minnesota
associated with lower MODIS GVF; however, there was some
contamination from clouds and precipitation there.
These modiﬁcations in the heat ﬂuxes due to GVF translated
into changes in the 2-m temperature and dewpoint temperature
[Fig. 13(d) and (e)] at 21 h just prior to convective initiation in
the warm, moist sector. The western part of the focus area with
higher MODIS GVF [Fig. 13(a)] experienced a net decrease
(increase) in the 2-m temperature (dewpoint temperature),
typically on the order of 1–2°, although local increases in
dewpoint temperature exceeded 4°C. The slightly lower 2-m
temperatures in the MODIS run over South Dakota were more
in-line with surface observations; however, both model runs
generally under-estimated the 2-m temperatures over eastern
Nebraska, and southern and western Iowa (not shown).
The net effect in the 21-h forecast was an overall increase in
the surface CAPE [Fig. 13(f)], especially over the western part
of the focus area. Portions of eastern Nebraska to southeastern
North Dakota had CAPE increases over 1000 J kg−1.Inthis
instance, the higher GVF over the warm sector led to a greater
inﬂux of moisture into a shallower boundary layer (not shown),
resulting in a net increase in moist static energy per unit
mass within the boundary layer, despite small decreases in
the 2-m temperature. Similar sensitivity studies demonstrated
the inﬂuence of real-time AVHRR vegetation data on the
partitioning of heat ﬂuxes, and simulated 2-m temperature and
dewpoint temperature in NWP models , , as well as
statistically signiﬁcant improvements to the simulated most
unstable CAPE .
Fig. 15. (a) NU-WRF 1-h accumulated precipitation (mm) for the 33-h
forecast of the control run, (b) MODIS run, (c) difference (MODIS – control),
and (d) stage IV precipitation analysis, valid for the hour ending 0900 UTC
18 July 2010.
The impact of the GVF differences on model simulated
precipitation was fairly subtle initially. Convective precipi-
tation initiated at ∼21 h in both simulations over extreme
southeastern North Dakota (not shown) and evolved into a
bow-shaped line in southern Minnesota by 27 h (Fig. 14).
The difference in the 1-h simulation precipitation at 27 h
[Fig. 14(c)] suggests that the MODIS run was slightly slower
than the control run over southernMinnesota. Both simulations
incorrectly produced a nearly continuous line of precipitation
while the observed precipitation resembled a more discrete
mode [Fig. 14(d)]. Over the next several hours, the control sim-
ulation quickly moved the precipitation into northern Missouri,
while the MODIS run regenerated/back-built convection more
similar to the observed evolution.By 33 h (0900 UTC 18 July),
the location and intensity of the MODIS 1-h accumulated
precipitation were more closely aligned with the Stage IV
precipitation analysis compared to the control run (Fig. 15).
Objective veriﬁcation statistics of the forecast 2-m tem-
perature and 2-m dewpoint temperature at surface observing
stations illustrate the systematic changes due to the new
GVF dataset over parts of the focus area. The mean error in
2-m temperature [Fig. 16(a)] shows cooler MODIS simulated
temperatures by about −1.5 °C (mainly after 12 h) in the
Northern Plains region (NPL) [Fig. 16(c)], which had the
largest increases in the MODIS GVF over the climatology
GVF [Figs. 1(c) and 13(a)]. While the cooler MODIS-NPL
forecast 2-m temperatures introduced a slight negative bias
after 18 h, the 2-m dewpoint temperature mean errors tended
to improve on the control dry bias between 12–17 h and
again after 25 h [Fig. 16(b)] (MODIS-NPL became slightly
too moist between 18–25 h). The MODIS-NPL mean error
CASE et al.: REAL-TIME MODIS VEGETATION PRODUCT 1783
Fig. 16. Select veriﬁcation statistics over the Northern Plains (NPL) and Midwest (MDW) NCEP veriﬁcation regions for the 17 July 2010 control and
MODIS NU-WRF simulations. (a) Mean error for 2-m temperature (°C). (b) Mean error for 2-m dewpoint temperature (°C). (c) Map of NCEP veriﬁcation
regions. (d) Critical success index (CSI) for the 5 mm h−1accumulated precipitation between forecast hours 12 and 36 over the MDW veriﬁcation region.
The mean sample sizes per forecast hour are: 287 and 253 for 2-m temperature and dewpoint temperature in NPL; 1492 and 1398 for 2-m temperature and
dewpoint temperature in MDW.
shows systematically higher 2-m dewpoint temperatures up to
2°C [Fig. 16(b)], especially beginning with the onset of the
diurnal heating cycle after 12 h. Further east over the Midwest
veriﬁcation region (MDW) [Fig. 16(c)], very little systematic
change is seen in the simulated 2-m temperature and dewpoint
temperature, consistent with the relatively small GVF changes
there [Figs. 1(c) and 13(a)].
Precipitation veriﬁcation statistics support the previous
subjective interpretations, as indicated by the higher values
of Critical Success Index scores in the MODIS run, espe-
cially associated with the nocturnal precipitation after ∼31 h
[Fig. 16(d)]. The improved simulated precipitation during this
time was likely due to the higher residual CAPE in the MODIS
run over eastern Nebraska and western Iowa during these
forecast hours (not shown). This event represents an ideal case
in which strong surface heating was unimpeded by antecedent
cloud cover, precipitation, or strong atmospheric forcing. Thus,
differences in the input GVF led to substantial changes in
simulated low-level thermal, moisture, and instability ﬁelds,
which ultimately affected the evolution of simulated precipi-
tation systems in a favorable manner.
This paper presented a methodology for producing daily
NDVI and GVF composites at 0.01° (∼1 km) resolution in
real time using direct broadcast swaths of MODIS NDVI data.
The direct broadcast NDVI data are produced by the MODIS
Rapid Response System and because of the real-time dis-
semination strategy, atmospheric correction due to particulate
aerosols are not accounted for in the NDVI calculations. The
calculation of GVF from NDVI is handled by vegetation class
following the previous documented methodologies of ,
. The GVF composites are updated daily in real time and
can be used in the LIS, NU-WRF modeling system, and the
community WRF model.
The real-time MODIS GVF product was compared to
the global AVHRR-based climatological GVF on a 0.144°
grid (∼16 km) currently available to community modeling
systems, such as LIS and WRF. Due to the much higher
spatial resolution, the MODIS GVF was better able to resolve
horizontal variations in GVF, especially in the complex terrain
of the western U.S. The real-time MODIS GVF was shown
to respond to regional climate anomalies in precipitation and
temperature during 2010 and 2011, with substantial regional
differences at times. The U.S. High Plains experienced above-
average precipitation during the spring and summer of 2010,
which resulted in substantially higher MODIS GVF compared
to the AVHRR climatology. In addition, the onset of extreme
drought and heat over the U.S. Southern Plains during summer
2011 yielded a large annual decrease in MODIS GVF of up
A sample ofﬂine LIS-Noah LSM run centered on Montana
quantiﬁed changes to the sensible and latent heat ﬂux up to
100 Wm−2or more using the real-time MODIS versus the
AVHRR climatology GVF, also illustrating the impacts of
improved resolution in an area of complex terrain. Composite
LIS-Noah simulation results for the 2010 warm season showed
that areas of higher mean MODIS GVF led to net increases
1784 IEEE TRANSACTIONS ON GEOSCIENCE AND REMOTE SENSING, VOL. 52, NO. 3, MARCH 2014
(decreases) in latent (sensible) heat ﬂux. However, after a few
months of integration, the mean soil moisture in the MODIS
GVF simulation became drier over the western U.S. due to the
increased rate of soil moisture extraction in regions of higher
GVF. The overall drier soils eventually led to an increase in
the mean sensible heat ﬂux and ultimately, an increase in the
net total energy directed to the atmosphere in the western U.S.
An NWP case study of a warm-season severe weather event
illustrated how GVF differences affected the low-level thermal,
moisture, and instability ﬁelds that ultimately impacted the
precipitation evolution in a positive manner. Cases such as the
17 July 2010 event, where strong surface heating maximizes
the differences in heat ﬂuxes, have the greatest potential to
beneﬁt from the inclusion of real-time vegetation information.
Future work shall involve extending the NDVI/GVF com-
positing algorithm for use in future satellite platforms. Because
of the simple compositing algorithm, such a regional real-time
vegetation product could easily be applied to other current
and future sensors aboard both polar orbiting satellites (e.g.,
Visible Infrared Imager Radiometer Suite on Suomi-NPP)
and the Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite-R
The authors would like to thank the constructive suggestions
given by three anonymous reviewers, which strengthened
the manuscript substantially. Computational resources for the
simulation work were provided by the NASA Center for
Climate Simulation at the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center.
Mention of a copyrighted, trademarked or proprietary product,
service, or document does not constitute endorsement thereof
by the authors, ENSCO Inc., Raytheon, the National Aero-
nautics and Space Administration, the SPoRT Center, or the
U.S. Government. Any such mention is solely for the purpose
of fully informing the reader of the resources used to conduct
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Jonathan L. Case has performed land surface
and numerical weather prediction sensitivity studies
using NASA datasets for the Short-term Prediction
Research and Transition (SPoRT) team since 2006.
He has transitioned several unique real-time NASA
datasets into operations within the National Weather
Service forecast ofﬁces by conﬁguring local mod-
eling platforms to incorporate the datasets. He runs
and manages a high-resolution, real-time conﬁgura-
tion of the NASA Land Information System running
the Noah land surface model, which provides input
land surface initial conditions to local modeling systems over the eastern U.S.
Prior to joining SPoRT, he served under the Applied Meteorology Unit at
Cape Canaveral, FL, USA, for nearly eight years, supporting the U.S. Space
Program by transitioning technology into operations for the U.S. Air Force
45th Weather Squadron, the National Weather Service (NWS) Spaceﬂight
Meteorology Group, and the NWS forecast ofﬁce at Melbourne, FL. He has
authored more than 50 conference proceedings, extended abstracts, reports,
and refereed journal articles since 1998.
Frank J. LaFontaine has over 20 years of experi-
ence in meteorology, research, and software develop-
ment. His work includes software/algorithm devel-
opment and analyses of NASA and NOAA satel-
lite data and products for Short-term Prediction
Research and Transition (SPoRT). He also serves as
a Scientist and Software Developer for the NASA
Marshall Space Flight Center airborne research
instruments AMPR and C-STAR. He has partici-
pated in 17 NASA ﬁeld experiments. Software skills
include FORTRAN-77, McIDAS, CSH, Perl, and
some experience with IDL, C, HDF, and HTML. He has co-authored numerous
peer-reviewed papers, conference preprints, and posters.
Mr. LaFontaine is a member of the American Meteorological Society.
Jordan R. Bell is a senior atmospheric science
student at the University of Missouri, Columbia,
He was an intern at the NASA Short-term Pre-
diction Research and Transition (SPoRT) Center
in 2011, during which he worked with SPoRT
scientists to evaluate the impacts of the real-time
SPoRT/MODIS Green Vegetation Fraction on land
surface and numerical weather prediction models.
He has presented results of the intern project in
New Orleans, LA, USA, at the 92nd American
Meteorological Society annual meeting in January 2012.
Gary J. Jedlovec has spent most of the last 25 years
developing and evaluating algorithms to retrieve
geophysical parameters from remotely sensed air-
craft and satellite measurements for regional climate
studies and weather forecasting applications. He
has authored papers on these approaches including
the retrieval of land and sea surface temperatures,
and atmospheric water vapor, approaches to detect
clouds in polar and geostationary satellite imagery,
and in the assimilation of AIRS radiance and proﬁle
data to improve short-term weather forecasts. He is
currently leading an effort to transition the use of unique NASA EOS satellite
data (from MODIS, AMSR-E, and AIRS instruments) into various National
Weather Service forecast ofﬁces and other operational end users to improve
short-term weather forecasts on a regional and local scale.
1786 IEEE TRANSACTIONS ON GEOSCIENCE AND REMOTE SENSING, VOL. 52, NO. 3, MARCH 2014
Sujay V. Kumar received the Ph.D. degree in civil
engineering with emphasis on computer-aided high-
performance computing applications from North
Carolina State University, Raleigh, NC, USA, in
He is currently a Senior Scientist with Science
Applications International Corporation and conducts
research in the Hydrological Sciences Laboratory,
NASA Goddard Space Flight Center. He is the Chief
Architect of the NASA Land Information System, a
high-performance platform for high-resolution land
surface modeling and data assimilation. His current research interests include
land surface modeling and data assimilation, land-atmosphere interaction stud-
ies, computational modeling, optimization, and high-performance computing.
Christa D. Peters-Lidard received the B.S. (summa
cum laude) degree in geophysics and a minor in
mathematics from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and
State University (Virginia Tech), Blacksburg, VA,
USA, in 1991, and the M.A. and Ph.D. degrees
in the Water Resources Program from Princeton
University, Princeton, NJ, USA, in 1993 and 1997,
She is currently the Chief of the Hydrological
Sciences Laboratory, NASA’s Goddard Space Flight
Center, Greenbelt, MD, USA, where she has been a
Physical Scientist since 2001. She was an Assistant Professor with the School
of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Georgia Institute of Technology,
Atlanta, GA, USA, from 1997 to 2001. Her current research interests include
land-atmosphere interactions, soil moisture measurement and modeling, and
the application of high-performance computing and communications technolo-
gies in Earth system modeling.
Dr. Peters-Lidard is currently the Chief Editor for the American Meteoro-
logical Society (AMS) Journal of Hydrometeorology, and an elected member
of the AMS Council. She has also served as an Associate Editor for the
Journal of Hydrology and Water Resources Research. Her Land Information
System Team received the 2005 NASA Software of the Year Award. She is
a member of Phi Beta Kappa, and was awarded the Committee on Space
Research Scientiﬁc Commission A Zeldovich Medal in 2004 and the Arthur
S. Flemming Award in 2007. She was elected as an AMS Fellow in 2012.