Using satellite radar backscatter to predict above-ground woody biomass: A consistent relationship across four different African landscapes

E. T. A. Mitchard, S. S. Saatchi, I. H. Woodhouse, G. Nangendo, N. S. Ribeiro, M. Williams, C. M. Ryan, S. L. Lewis, T. R. Feldpausch, P. Meir

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Regional-scale above-ground biomass (AGB) estimates of tropical savannas and woodlands are highly uncertain, despite their global importance for ecosystems services and as carbon stores. In response, we collated field inventory data from 253 plots at four study sites in Cameroon, Uganda and Mozambique, and examined the relationships between field-measured AGB and cross-polarized radar backscatter values derived from ALOS PALSAR, an L-band satellite sensor. The relationships were highly significant, similar among sites, and displayed high prediction accuracies up to 150 Mg ha(-1) (+/-similar to 20%). AGB predictions for any given site obtained using equations derived from data from only the other three sites generated only small increases in error. The results suggest that a widely applicable general relationship exists between AGB and L-band backscatter for lower-biomass tropical woody vegetation. This relationship allows regional-scale AGB estimation, required for example by planned REDD (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation) schemes.

Original languageEnglish
Article numberL23401
Number of pages6
JournalGeophysical Research Letters
Volume36
Issue number23
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2 Dec 2009

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