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Remote Sens. 2016, 8(7), 571; doi:10.3390/rs8070571

Multi-Resolution Mapping and Accuracy Assessment of Forest Carbon Density by Combining Image and Plot Data from a Nested and Clustering Sampling Design

1
Research Center of Forest Remote Sensing & Information Engineering, Central South University of Forestry & Technology, Changsha 410004, China
2
Department of Geography, Southern Illinois University, Carbondale, IL 62901, USA
*
Authors to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editors: Erkki Tomppo, Dengsheng Lu, Qi Chen, Huaiqing Zhang, Parth Sarathi Roy and Prasad S. Thenkabail
Received: 27 March 2016 / Revised: 25 June 2016 / Accepted: 30 June 2016 / Published: 6 July 2016
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Digital Forest Resource Monitoring and Uncertainty Analysis)
View Full-Text   |   Download PDF [8492 KB, uploaded 6 July 2016]   |  

Abstract

Combining sample plot and image data has been widely used to map forest carbon density at local, regional, national and global scales. When mapping is conducted using multiple spatial resolution images at different scales, field observations have to be collected at the corresponding resolutions to match image values in pixel sizes. Given a study area, however, to save time and cost, field observations are often collected from sample plots having a fixed size. This will lead to inconsistency of spatial resolutions between sample plots and image pixels and impede the mapping and product quality assessment. In this study, a methodological framework was proposed to conduct mapping and accuracy assessment of forest carbon density at four spatial resolutions by combining remotely sensed data and reference values of sample plots from a systematical, nested and clustering sampling design. This design led to one field observation dataset at a 30 m spatial resolution sample plot level and three other reference datasets by averaging the observations from three, five and seven sample plots within each of 250 m and 500 m sub-blocks and 1000 m blocks, respectively. The datasets matched the pixel values of a Landsat 8 image and three MODIS products. A sequential Gaussian co-simulation (SGCS) and a sequential Gaussian block co-simulation (SGBCS), an upscaling algorithm, were employed to map forest carbon density at the spatial resolutions. This methodology was tested for mapping forest carbon density in Huang-Feng-Qiao forest farm of You County in Eastern Hunan of China. The results showed that: First, all of the means of predicted forest carbon density values at four spatial resolutions fell in the confidence intervals of the reference data at a significance level of 0.05. Second, the systematical, nested and clustering sampling design provided the potential to obtain spatial information of forest carbon density at multiple spatial resolutions. Third, the relative root mean square error (RMSE) of predicted values at the plot level was much greater than those at the sub-block and block levels. Moreover, the accuracies of the up-scaled estimates were much higher than those from previous studies. In addition, at the same spatial resolution, SGCSWA (scaling up the SGCS and Landsat derived 30 m resolution map using a window average (WA)) resulted in smallest relative RMSEs of up-scaled predictions, followed by combinations of Landsat images and SGBCS. The accuracies from both methods were significantly greater than those from the combinations of MODIS images and SGCS. Overall, this study implied that the combinations of Landsat 8 images and SGCSWA or SGBCS with the systematical, nested and clustering sampling design provided the potential to formulate a methodological framework to map forest carbon density and conduct accuracy assessment at multiple spatial resolutions. However, this methodology needs to be further refined and examined in other forest landscapes. View Full-Text
Keywords: co-simulation; forest carbon density; multi-resolution mapping; sampling design; remote sensing; up-scaling co-simulation; forest carbon density; multi-resolution mapping; sampling design; remote sensing; up-scaling
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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

Yan, E.; Lin, H.; Wang, G.; Sun, H. Multi-Resolution Mapping and Accuracy Assessment of Forest Carbon Density by Combining Image and Plot Data from a Nested and Clustering Sampling Design. Remote Sens. 2016, 8, 571.

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