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Remote Sens. 2015, 7(8), 9587-9609; doi:10.3390/rs70809587

Sensitivity of Multi-Source SAR Backscatter to Changes in Forest Aboveground Biomass

Department of Geographical Sciences, University of Maryland, College Park, MD 20742, USA
State Key Laboratory of Remote Sensing Science (Jointly Sponsored by the Institute of Remote Sensing and Digital Earth, Chinese Academy of Sciences, and Beijing Normal University), Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100101, China
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editors: Conghe Song and Prasad S. Thenkabail
Received: 27 February 2015 / Revised: 19 July 2015 / Accepted: 20 July 2015 / Published: 28 July 2015
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Carbon Cycle, Global Change, and Multi-Sensor Remote Sensing)
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Accurate estimates of forest aboveground biomass (AGB) after anthropogenic disturbance could reduce uncertainties in the carbon budget of terrestrial ecosystems and provide critical information to policy makers. Yet, the loss of carbon due to forest disturbance and the gain from post-disturbance recovery have not been sufficiently assessed. In this study, a sensitivity analysis was first conducted to investigate: (1) the influence of incidence angle and soil moisture on Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) backscatter; (2) the feasibility of cross-image normalization between multi-temporal and multi-sensor SAR data; and (3) the possibility of applying normalized backscatter data to detect forest biomass changes. An empirical model was used to reduce incidence angle effects, followed by cross-image normalization procedure to lessen soil moisture effect. Changes in forest biomass at medium spatial resolution (100 m) were mapped using both spaceborne and airborne SAR data. Results indicate that (1) the effect of incidence angle on SAR backscatter could be reduced to less than 1 dB by the correction model for airborne SAR data; (2) over 50% of the changes in SAR backscatter due to soil moisture could be eliminated by the cross-image normalization procedure; and (3) forest biomass changes greater than 100 Mg·ha1 or above 50% of 150 Mg·ha1 are detectable using cross-normalized SAR data. View Full-Text
Keywords: forest aboveground biomass; SAR backscatter; formalization; incidence angle; PALSAR; UAVSAR; SIR-C/XSAR; AIRSAR forest aboveground biomass; SAR backscatter; formalization; incidence angle; PALSAR; UAVSAR; SIR-C/XSAR; AIRSAR

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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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MDPI and ACS Style

Huang, W.; Sun, G.; Ni, W.; Zhang, Z.; Dubayah, R. Sensitivity of Multi-Source SAR Backscatter to Changes in Forest Aboveground Biomass. Remote Sens. 2015, 7, 9587-9609.

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