The focus of this work was on explaining the effect of macroscopic surface roughness on the reflected light from a soil surface. These questions extend from deciding how to best describe roughness mathematically, to figuring out how to quantify its effect on the spectral reflectance from a soil’s surface. In this document, I provide a background of the fundamental literature in the fields of remote sensing and computer vision that have been instrumental in my research. I then outline the software and hardware tools that I have developed to quantify roughness. This includes a detailed outline of a custom "LiDAR" operating mode for the GRIT-T goniometer system that was developed and characterized over the course of this research, as well as proposed methods for using convergent images acquired by our goniometer system’s camera to derive useful structure from motion point clouds. These tools and concepts are then used in two experiments that aim to explain the relationship between soil surface roughness and spectral BRF phenomena. In the first experiment, clay sediment samples were gradually pulverized into a smooth powderized state and in steps of reduced surface roughness. Results show that variance in the continuum spectra as a function of viewing angle increased with the roughness of the sediment surface. This result suggests that inter-facet multiple scattering caused a variance in absorption band centering and depth due to an increased path length traveled through the medium. In the second experiment, we examine the performance of the Hapke photometric roughness correction for sand sediment surfaces of controlled sample density. We find that the correction factor potentially underpredicts the effect of shadowing in the forward scattering direction. The percentage difference between forward-modeled BRF measurements and empirically measured BRF measurements is constant across wavelength, suggesting that a factor can be empirically derived. Future results should also investigate the scale at which the photometric correction factor should be applied. Finally, I also outline a structure from motion processing chain aimed at deriving meaningful metrics of vegetation structure. Results show that correlations between these metrics and observed directional reflectance phenomena of chordgrass are strong for peak growing state plants. We observe good agreement between destructive LAI metrics and contact-based LAI metrics.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Earth sciences--Remote sensing; Reflectance--Measurement; Multispectral imaging; Optical radar

Publication Date


Document Type


Student Type


Degree Name

Imaging Science (Ph.D.)

Department, Program, or Center

Chester F. Carlson Center for Imaging Science (COS)


Charles Bachmann

Advisor/Committee Member

Scott Franklin

Advisor/Committee Member

Emmett Ientilucci


RIT – Main Campus

Plan Codes