Landsat 8 is an American Earth observation satellite sent into orbit on February 11, 2013, which produce staggering images for earth analysis. By exploring with its band combination, Landsat 8 images are able to generate a variety of land exposures. Compared to Landsat 7, Landsat 8 has a new feature such as the coastal blue band water penetration/aerosol detection and the cirrus cloud band for cloud masking.
Before I get into the band combinations, it is necessary to check that the image we add into QGIS is Landsat 8 images. To inspect the image, right click on the image and click properties > style. In render type, make sure multiband colour is selected. Click on the drop-down of Red or Green or Blue. Landsat 8 images have 9 bands.
9 Bands of A Landsat 8 Image
To play with band combinations, we solely modify red band, green band, and blue band. The order is always red – green – blue. Placing correct band combination, a red band with band 4 (red), a green band with band 3 (green) and blue band with band 2 (blue), produces natural colour (RGB).
List of Landsat 8 band combinations:
- Natural Color (4 3 2)
This band combination is as close to “true color” as you can get with a Landsat OLI image. One unfortunate drawback with this band combination is that these bands tend to be susceptible to atmospheric interference, so they sometimes appear hazy.
- False Color – Urban (7 6 4)
Because this band combination makes use of both of the SWIR bands aboard Landsat 8, the image is much more crisp than band combinations that make use of bands in shorter wavelengths, which are more susceptible to haze.
- Color Infrared – Vegetation (5 4 3)
Note how vegetation really pops in red, with healthier vegetation being more vibrant. It’s also easier to tell different types of vegetation apart than it is with a natural color image. This is a very commonly used band combination in remote sensing when looking at vegetation, crops and wetlands.
- Agriculture (6 5 2)
This band combination is useful for the monitoring of agricultural crops, which appear as a vibrant green. Bare earth appears as a magenta color and non-crop vegetation appears as more subdued shades of green.
- Atmosphere Penetration (7 6 5)
Because this band combination makes use of both of the SWIR bands aboard Landsat 8, the image is much crisper than band combinations that make use of bands in shorter wavelengths, which are more susceptible to haze.
- Healthy Vegetation (5 6 2)
To detect healthy vegetation
- Land/Water (5 6 4)
In this false colour image, land appears in shades of orange and green, ice stands out as a vibrant magenta color, and water appears in shades of blue.
- Natural With Atmospheric Removal (7 5 3)
This band combination is similar to the 5, 6, 4 band combination shown above, but vegetation shows up in more vibrant shades of green. This band combination was used for the global Landsat mosaic created by NASA.
- Shortwave Infrared (7 5 4)
- Vegetation Analysis (6 5 4)
To analyze vegetation
References: USGS, HarrisGeospatial & ESRI