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The MERIS sensor and the Globcover Project

a) The MERIS sensor
The MEdium Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MERIS) is one of Envisat’s 10 instruments. It operates in the solar reflective spectral range. Fifteen spectral bands with a spatial resolution of 300 metres can be selected by ground command.

MERIS was designed to acquire data over the Earth whenever illumination conditions are suitable. The instrument's 68.5° field of view around nadir covers a swath width of 1150 km.

MERIS’s primary mission is to measure the sea colour of the oceans and coastal areas. As a secondary mission it is also capable of estimating:  

  • Cloud type, top height, and albedo
  • Top and bottom indices of atmosphere vegetation
  • Photosynthetically available radiation
  • Surface pressure
  • Water vapour total column content for all surfaces
  • Aerosol load over land
  • Vegetation indices
  • Fractional Absorbed Photosynthetically Active Radiation (FAPAR)

MERIS measures the reflected solar radiation from the Earth's surface and clouds in the visible and near-infrared spectral regions. Consequently, observation is nominally limited to the day side of the Earth.
No.Band centre (nm)Band width (nm)Applications
1412.510Yellow substance and detritus pigments
2442.510Chlorophyll absorption maximum
349010Chlorophyll and other pigments
451010Suspended sediment, red tides
556010Chlorophyll absorption minimum
662010Suspended sediment
766510Chlorophyll absorption & fluorescence reference
86817.5Chlorophyll fluorescence peak
9708.7510Fluorescence reference, atmosphere corrections
10753.757.5Vegetation, cloud, O2 absorption band reference
11760.6253.75O2 R- branch absorption band
12778.7515Atmosphere corrections
1386520Atmosphere corrections
1488510Vegetation, water vapour reference
1590010Water vapour



Vegetation in South America
Vegetation in South AmericaMain EcosystemsVegetation IndicesSPOT VEGETATION imagery
Exercise 1: NDVI - Vegetation from spaceExercise 2 : NDVI AnimationExercise 3: NDVI dynamics by biogeographical zones
Related links
MERIS product handbookMIRAVI
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