Journal of Remote Sensing Special Issue

Image of tree canopy

Radiation Transfer Modeling With Radiation Transfer Model Intercomparison Vegetation Canopies

Journal of Remote Sensing, a Science Partner Journal, is now considering submissions for its second special issue, Radiation Transfer Modeling With Radiation Transfer Model Intercomparison Vegetation Canopies.


Physically based radiation modeling is increasingly used to study radiation reflectance, emissions and energy budgets of urban and natural Earth surfaces. Such modeling is essential for advancing the interpretation of existing satellite remote sensing (RS) observations in terms of geoscience parameters of our planet, but also for designing new RS satellite missions aiming to study urban climate and vegetation functioning. Depending on their scientific objectives, models can be more or less detailed and, consequently, computationally complex. Models can be designed to be universal (ie, able to simulate all radiative events taking place between the radiation source and the sensor) or specialized (ie, focusing on a specific component of the Earth system such as radiative transfer [RT] in the atmosphere, vegetation canopies, bodies of water, and more). Simpler large-scale models are often parametric, with calibration and parametrization originating from the ground and RS observations or potentially from outputs of more complex models. This results in a great diversity of existing RT models and associated input parameters and output end products.

In order to benchmark and improve their performance, the RT modeling community participates in the RAdiation transfer Model Intercomparison (RAMI) exercise, organized by the Joint Research Centre (JRC) of the European Commission (EC) since 1999. Its first four phases (RAMI-I to RAMI-IV) aimed to compare modeled reflectance and radiative budget products of abstract and actual vegetation canopies, which contributed greatly to improvements in accuracy, robustness and function of participating models. The last phase (RAMI-V) started in October 2020. It offers new ways to compare and further improve RT models by simulating abstract and actual scene definitions of the RAMI-IV phase, as well as two new actual 3D scenes of a pre-fire two-layer (trees and grass) savanna ecosystem in the Kruger National Park (South Africa) and the Wytham Wood deciduous forest (United Kingdom).

This special issue of Journal of Remote Sensing aims to publish results related to the RAMI-V phase. It is open to scientists who directly participate in RAMI-V, but also to those who use RAMI-I to RAMI-V vegetation canopies to model various RS data in other spectral and research domains, including (but not limited to) thermal infrared RS, terrestrial and airborne LiDAR or solar-induced chlorophyll fluorescence observations. The special issue will illustrate the broad potential and computational efficiency of the state-of-the-art radiation models for simulating RS observations and the radiative budget of abstract and actual vegetation canopies. It will also help identify gaps and burn needs in radiation modeling science. For this special issue, contributions of unpublished original research based on RAMI-V vegetation canopies are expected. Prospective authors are encouraged to document their modeling approaches and results in the following and related research domains:

  • RT modeling and simulations realized in the frame of the RAMI-V phase
  • Modeling of BOA and TOA remote sensing observations (eg, radiometer, LiDAR, etc.) and radiative budget of RAMI vegetation canopies in short and long wavelengths (including solar-induced fluorescence)
  • Validation of RT models
  • High-speed computational implementations of RT simulation codes
  • Innovative applications of RAMI RT simulations for remotely sensed data analysis and interpretation (including model inversions)
  • Engineering tools for a remote sensing instrument design developed based on RAMI-V scenes

    Submission Deadline

    Extended! Submissions welcome through March 31, 2023.

      Submission Instructions

      Please indicate in your cover letter that your submission is intended for inclusion in the special issue, Radiation Transfer Modeling With Radiation Transfer Model Intercomparison Vegetation Canopies. There are no submission fees and article processing charges (APCs) are waived through June 2023.

      Guest Editors

      Jean-Philippe Gastellu-Etchegorry, Toulouse III University, Toulouse, France (, is a physicist specializing in radiative transfer modeling in the field of remote sensing and radiative budgeting of land surfaces. He received an Engineer degree (ENSEEIHT, 1978) in electricity, an aggregation degree in Physics (Paris VI University, 1981), and two PhDs in Solar Physics (1983) and Remote Sensing and Digital Image Processing (1989) at Toulouse III University (UT3). In 1990, after 5 years with Gadjah Mada University Remote Sensing Center (Indonesia), he became an Associate Professor at UT3 where he led the IRAP Remote Sensing team. In 1995, he joined CESBIO and led its modeling team for 15 years. In 1997, Gastellu-Etchegorry became a full Professor at UT3. For 17 years he headed the AUF Remote Sensing Society (3000 members). Since 2007 he has served as President of the Scientific Council of IUT, a major faculty of UT3, and was Deputy Director of CESBIO up to 2021. Since 1992, he has headed the team that develops the DART model that simulates fluorescence, radiative budget and satellite / airborne / in-situ spectroradiometer and LIDAR acquisitions of natural and urban landscapes. DART was patented in 2003 and UT3 gave 460 licenses to research and space centers (NASA, KCL, CAS, etc.).

      Nadine Gobron, European Commission, Joint Research Centre (, is a senior scientist specializing in radiative transfer modeling and on the design and exploitation of advanced methods to extract quantitative information from optical remote sensing data, including the definition of evaluation procedures. She received a Maîtrise de Physique degree in 1993, the DEA in Sciences de la Terre et de l’Atmosphère degree in 1994, and her PhD (Doctorat d'Université Physique de l'Atmosphère) in 1997 from the Université Blaise Pascal, Clermont-Ferrand, France. She is responsible for the RAMI-V phase and is the project leader at the European Commission Joint Research Center for Quality Assurance and Quality Control of Copernicus products. She is a member of GCOS/Terrestrial Observation Panel for Climate (TOPC) and co-editor of Global chapter of State of Climate (BAMS). She was Chair of the Commission A on Space Studies of the Earth's Surface, Meteorology and Climate of the Committee on Space Research (COSPAR) from 2008-2016 and the European co-Chair of the CEOS LPV group on FAPAR (2009-2017). She was recipient of the JRC best scientist award 2004 and NASA Honor Award in 2001.

      Zbyněk Malenovský, University of Tasmania, Hobart, Australia (, is an optical remote sensing scientist. He holds a PhD (2006) in Production Ecology and Resource Conservation (Imaging Spectroscopy and Quantitative Remote Sensing) from Wageningen University in The Netherlands and MSc (1998) in Nature and Environmental Protection from Palacky University in Olomouc, Czech Republic. He has worked as a research scientist at the Global Change Research Institute of the Czech Academy of Sciences, the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center (USA), the University of Wollongong (Australia), the University of Zürich (Switzerland), and Wageningen University (Netherlands). His research interest is upscaling of optical signals reflected, transmitted, and emitted from leaves of plant canopies using physical radiative transfer models. He has developed drone, airborne, and satellite based imaging spectroscopy and machine learning methods to estimate biochemical, biophysical, and eco-physiological plant traits indicating dynamic environmental changes, such as stress events, especially in harsh remote (eg, high-altitude Alpine and near-shore Antarctic) environments.

      Guangjian Yan, Beijing Normal University, Beijing, China (, received BSc and MSc degrees in Optics from Beijing Institute of Technology, China. He received a PhD (1999) in Cartography and Geographic Information Systems from the Institute of Remote Sensing Applications, CAS. Yan served as a visiting scholar at Boston University in 1998 and is currently a Professor with Beijing Normal University. Since 2012, he has served as Deputy Director of the State Key Laboratory of Remote Sensing Science. His research interests are in the areas of multi-angular remote sensing, vegetation remote sensing and radiation budget. He was the Principal Investigator for the Key Program of National Natural Science Foundation of China, the National High Technology Research and Development Program, and the National Basic Research Program of China. Yan proposed the Path Length Distribution method for indirect measurements of leaf area using active and passive optical remote sensing data.