Atmospheric water vapor (AWV) content is closely related to precipitation that in turn has effects on the productivity of
agricultural, forestry and range land. MODIS images have been used for AWV retrieval, and the method uses either two
(0.841-0.876 μm and 0.915-0.965 μm) or three (0.841-0.876, 0.915-0.965 and 1.230-0-1.250 μm) MODIS channel
ratios. We applied both methods to the MODIS data over Northeast China acquired from June to August, 2008 to
retrieve AWV content, and the results were validated on ground observed data from 10 radio sonde stations characterized
by various land cover. The bulk results indicate that the two-channel ratio outperformed the three-channel ratio based on
the coefficient of determination R2 = 0.81 vs. 0.78. The validation results for individual land cover types also support this
observation with R2 = 0.92 vs. 0.84 for woodland, 0.82 vs. 0.79 for cropland, 0.90 vs. 0.86 for grassland and 0.673 vs.
0.669 for urban areas. The spatial distribution of AWV derived using the two-channel ratio method was correlated to
land-use classification data, and a high correlation was evident when other conditions were similar. With the exception
of dry cropland, the amount of average water vapor content over different land use types demonstrates a consistent order:
water-body > paddy-field > woodland > grassland > barren for the analyzed multi-temporal MODIS data. This order
partially matches the evapotranspiration pattern of underlying surface, and future work is required for analyzing the
association of the landscape pattern with AWV in the region.