Estimation of woody biomass of pine savanna woodlands from ALOS PALSAR imagery

Dimitrios Michelakis, Neil Stuart, Matthew Brolly, Iain H. Woodhouse, German Lopez, Vinicio Linares

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

We present an adapted woody biomass retrieval approach for tropical savanna areas appropriate for use with satellite acquired L-band SAR imagery. We use the semiempirical water cloud model to describe the interaction between the SAR signal and vegetation and re-arrange the model to predict biomass. Estimations are made using dual polarization SAR imagery collected by ALOS PALSAR during 2008 in combination with community woodland inventory data from pine savanna areas in Belize. Estimation accuracy is assessed internally by the fit of the model to the ground training data, and then validated against an independent external dataset, quality controlled using Worldview II imagery. The internal validation shows a biomass estimation with an RMSE of 25 t/ha and a coefficient of determination R2 of 0.70, while the external validation indicates an RMSE of 13 t/ha with R2 of 0.53. This approach to biomass estimation appears to be most influenced by the plots with higher tree numbers and where the trees were more homogeneous. The existence of many similar sized individuals in those plots influence the SAR backscatter and is predicted to be the cause the elevated level of saturation found in this study (>100 t/ha) with complete saturation predicted as a result of number density increases, and concurrently increasing basal area, both not exclusively dependent on biomass.

Original languageEnglish
Article number6975032
Pages (from-to)244-254
Number of pages11
JournalIEEE Journal of Selected Topics in Applied Earth Observations and Remote Sensing
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 4 Dec 2014

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • Carbon
  • forestry
  • radar imaging
  • satellite applications
  • synthetic aperture radar (SAR)


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