Review of Spectral Indices for Urban Remote Sensing

Javed A., Cheng Q., Peng H., Altan O., Li Y., Ara I., ...More

PHOTOGRAMMETRIC ENGINEERING AND REMOTE SENSING, vol.87, no.7, pp.513-524, 2021 (SCI-Expanded) identifier identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Review
  • Volume: 87 Issue: 7
  • Publication Date: 2021
  • Doi Number: 10.14358/pers.87.7.513
  • Journal Indexes: Science Citation Index Expanded (SCI-EXPANDED), Scopus, PASCAL, Aerospace Database, Applied Science & Technology Source, Aquatic Science & Fisheries Abstracts (ASFA), CAB Abstracts, Communication Abstracts, Computer & Applied Sciences, Environment Index, Metadex, Pollution Abstracts, DIALNET, Civil Engineering Abstracts
  • Page Numbers: pp.513-524
  • Istanbul Technical University Affiliated: Yes


Urban spectral indices have made promising improvements in the last two decades in urban land use land cover studies through mapping, estimation, change detection, time-series analyzing, urban dynamics, monitoring, modeling, and so on. Remote sensing spectral indices are unsupervised, unbiased, rapid, scalable, and quantitative in information extraction. Hence, we aimed to summarize the most relevant urban spectral indices by focusing on multispectral, thermal, and nighttime lights indices. We use the search terms "urban index", "built-up index", "normalized difference built-up area (NDBI)", "impervious surface index", and "spectral urban index" to collect relevant literature from the "Web of Science Core Collection" database. We found that all urban spectral indices developed since 2003, except NDBI. This review will help understand the applications of urban spectral indices, the selection of indices based on available spectral bands, and their merits and demerits.