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Sensors 2016, 16(6), 834; doi:10.3390/s16060834

Estimating Forest Aboveground Biomass by Combining Optical and SAR Data: A Case Study in Genhe, Inner Mongolia, China

State Key Laboratory of Information Engineering in Surveying, Mapping and Remote Sensing, Wuhan University, 129 Luoyu Road, Wuhan 430079, China
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Academic Editor: Scott Palo
Received: 16 March 2016 / Revised: 17 May 2016 / Accepted: 27 May 2016 / Published: 7 June 2016
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Abstract

Estimation of forest aboveground biomass is critical for regional carbon policies and sustainable forest management. Passive optical remote sensing and active microwave remote sensing both play an important role in the monitoring of forest biomass. However, optical spectral reflectance is saturated in relatively dense vegetation areas, and microwave backscattering is significantly influenced by the underlying soil when the vegetation coverage is low. Both of these conditions decrease the estimation accuracy of forest biomass. A new optical and microwave integrated vegetation index (VI) was proposed based on observations from both field experiments and satellite (Landsat 8 Operational Land Imager (OLI) and RADARSAT-2) data. According to the difference in interaction between the multispectral reflectance and microwave backscattering signatures with biomass, the combined VI (COVI) was designed using the weighted optical optimized soil-adjusted vegetation index (OSAVI) and microwave horizontally transmitted and vertically received signal (HV) to overcome the disadvantages of both data types. The performance of the COVI was evaluated by comparison with those of the sole optical data, Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) data, and the simple combination of independent optical and SAR variables. The most accurate performance was obtained by the models based on the COVI and optical and microwave optimal variables excluding OSAVI and HV, in combination with a random forest algorithm and the largest number of reference samples. The results also revealed that the predictive accuracy depended highly on the statistical method and the number of sample units. The validation indicated that this integrated method of determining the new VI is a good synergistic way to combine both optical and microwave information for the accurate estimation of forest biomass. View Full-Text
Keywords: biomass estimation; Landsat 8 OLI; RADARSAT-2; combined vegetation index; prediction method; sample size biomass estimation; Landsat 8 OLI; RADARSAT-2; combined vegetation index; prediction method; sample size
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Shao, Z.; Zhang, L. Estimating Forest Aboveground Biomass by Combining Optical and SAR Data: A Case Study in Genhe, Inner Mongolia, China. Sensors 2016, 16, 834.

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