Imagery & Remote Sensing

Band Combinations for Landsat 8

Landsat 8 has been online for a couple of months now, and the images look incredible. While all of the bands from previous Landsat missions are still incorporated, there are a couple of new ones, such as the coastal blue band water penetration/aerosol detection and the cirrus cloud band for cloud masking and other applications. Here’s a rundown of some common band combinations applied to Landsat 8, displayed as a red, green, blue (RGB):

Natural Color 4 3 2
False Color (urban) 7 6 4
Color Infrared (vegetation) 5 4 3
Agriculture 6 5 2
Atmospheric Penetration 7 6 5
Healthy Vegetation 5 6 2
Land/Water 5 6 4
Natural With Atmospheric Removal 7 5 3
Shortwave Infrared 7 5 4
Vegetation Analysis 6 5 4

Here’s how the new bands from Landsat 8 line up with Landsat 7:

Landsat 7 Landsat 8
Band Name Bandwidth (µm) Resolution (m) Band Name Bandwidth (µm) Resolution (m)
Band 1 Coastal 0.43 – 0.45 30
Band 1 Blue 0.45 – 0.52 30 Band 2 Blue 0.45 – 0.51 30
Band 2 Green 0.52 – 0.60 30 Band 3 Green 0.53 – 0.59 30
Band 3 Red 0.63 – 0.69 30 Band 4 Red 0.64 – 0.67 30
Band 4 NIR 0.77 – 0.90 30 Band 5 NIR 0.85 – 0.88 30
Band 5 SWIR 1 1.55 – 1.75 30 Band 6 SWIR 1 1.57 – 1.65 30
Band 7 SWIR 2 2.09 – 2.35 30 Band 7 SWIR 2 2.11 – 2.29 30
Band 8 Pan 0.52 – 0.90 15 Band 8 Pan 0.50 – 0.68 15
Band 9 Cirrus 1.36 – 1.38 30
Band 6 TIR 10.40 – 12.50 30/60 Band 10 TIRS 1 10.6 – 11.19 100
Band 11 TIRS 2 11.5 – 12.51 100

For the most part, the bands line up with what we’re used to, with some minor tweaking of the spectral ranges. The thermal infrared band from Landsat 7 is now split into two bands for Landsat 8. Whereas before you had one thermal band that was acquired at 60 m resolution (and resampled to 30 m) now you have increased spectral resolution at the cost of spatial resolution. It wouldn’t be remote sensing without tradeoffs, right?

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