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Remote Sens. 2014, 6(10), 10070-10088; doi:10.3390/rs61010070

The Uncertainty of Plot-Scale Forest Height Estimates from Complementary Spaceborne Observations in the Taiga-Tundra Ecotone

1
Biospheric Sciences Laboratory, Code 618, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, MD 20771, USA
2
Department of Geographical Sciences, University of Maryland, College Park, MD 20742, USA
3
Sigma Space Corporation, Lanham, MD 20706, USA
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 30 June 2014 / Revised: 16 September 2014 / Accepted: 29 September 2014 / Published: 21 October 2014
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Remote Sensing of Changing Northern High Latitude Ecosystems)
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Abstract

Satellite-based estimates of vegetation structure capture broad-scale vegetation characteristics as well as differences in vegetation structure at plot-scales. Active remote sensing from laser altimetry and radar systems is regularly used to measure vegetation height and infer vegetation structural attributes, however, the current uncertainty of their spaceborne measurements is likely to mask actual plot-scale differences in vertical structures in sparse forests. In the taiga (boreal forest)—tundra ecotone (TTE) the accumulated effect of subtle plot-scale differences in vegetation height across broad-scales may be significant. This paper examines the uncertainty of plot-scale forest canopy height measurements in northern Siberia Larix stands by combining complementary canopy surface elevations derived from satellite photogrammetry and ground elevations derived from the Geosciences Laser Altimeter System (GLAS) from the ICESat-1 satellite. With a linear model, spaceborne-derived canopy height measurements at the plot-scale predicted TTE stand height ~5 m–~10 m tall (R2 = 0.55, bootstrapped 95% confidence interval of R2 = 0.36–0.74) with an uncertainty ranging from ±0.86 m–1.37 m. A larger sample may mitigate the broad uncertainty of the model fit, however, the methodology provides a means for capturing plot-scale canopy height and its uncertainty from spaceborne data at GLAS footprints in sparse TTE forests and may serve as a basis for scaling up plot-level TTE vegetation height measurements to forest patches. View Full-Text
Keywords: ecotone; taiga; tundra; spaceborne; uncertainty; vegetation; structure; LiDAR; stereo; photogrammetry ecotone; taiga; tundra; spaceborne; uncertainty; vegetation; structure; LiDAR; stereo; photogrammetry
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This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).

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Montesano, P.M.; Sun, G.; Dubayah, R.; Ranson, K.J. The Uncertainty of Plot-Scale Forest Height Estimates from Complementary Spaceborne Observations in the Taiga-Tundra Ecotone. Remote Sens. 2014, 6, 10070-10088.

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