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Remote Sens. 2016, 8(7), 609; doi:10.3390/rs8070609

Airborne S-Band SAR for Forest Biophysical Retrieval in Temperate Mixed Forests of the UK

1
Department of Geography, Centre for Landscape and Climate Research, University of Leicester, Leicester LE1 7RH, UK
2
National Centre for Earth Observation (NCEO), University of Leicester, Leicester LE1 7RH, UK
3
Radar Group, School of Cranfield Defence and Security, Cranfield University, Shrivenham, Swindon SN6 8LA, UK
4
Centre for Ecology & Hydrology, Wallingford OX10 8BB, UK
5
School of Geography and Environment, South Parks Road Oxford, University of Oxford, Oxford OX1 3QY, UK
6
Airbus Defence and Space—Space Systems, Anchorage Road, Portsmouth, Hampshire PO3 5PU, UK
7
Satellite Applications Catapult, Electron Building Fermi Avenue Harwell, Oxford Didcot, Oxfordshire OX11 0QR, UK
8
Natural Environment Research Council, Airborne Research & Survey Facility, Firfax Building, Meteor Business Park, Cheltenham Road East, Gloucester GL2 9QL, UK
9
Forestry Commission, Bristol and Savernake, Leigh Woods Office, Abbots Leigh Road, Bristol BS8 3QB, UK
10
Geo-Intelligence, Airbus Defence and Space, Compass House, 60 Priesley Road, Surrey Research Park, Guildford GU2 7AG, UK
11
Faculty of Civil Engineering and Geosciences Building, Delft University of Technology, 23 Stevinweg, Delft PO-box 5048, The Netherlands
These authors contributed equally to this work.
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editors: Sangram Ganguly, Compton Tucker, Lars T. Waser and Prasad S. Thenkabail
Received: 19 April 2016 / Revised: 4 July 2016 / Accepted: 19 July 2016 / Published: 20 July 2016
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Remote Sensing of Vegetation Structure and Dynamics)
View Full-Text   |   Download PDF [3595 KB, uploaded 20 July 2016]   |  

Abstract

Radar backscatter from forest canopies is related to forest cover, canopy structure and aboveground biomass (AGB). The S-band frequency (3.1–3.3 GHz) lies between the longer L-band (1–2 GHz) and the shorter C-band (5–6 GHz) and has been insufficiently studied for forest applications due to limited data availability. In anticipation of the British built NovaSAR-S satellite mission, this study evaluates the benefits of polarimetric S-band SAR for forest biophysical properties. To understand the scattering mechanisms in forest canopies at S-band the Michigan Microwave Canopy Scattering (MIMICS-I) radiative transfer model was used. S-band backscatter was found to have high sensitivity to the forest canopy characteristics across all polarisations and incidence angles. This sensitivity originates from ground/trunk interaction as the dominant scattering mechanism related to broadleaved species for co-polarised mode and specific incidence angles. The study was carried out in the temperate mixed forest at Savernake Forest and Wytham Woods in southern England, where airborne S-band SAR imagery and field data are available from the recent AirSAR campaign. Field data from the test sites revealed wide ranges of forest parameters, including average canopy height (6–23 m), diameter at breast-height (7–42 cm), basal area (0.2–56 m2/ha), stem density (20–350 trees/ha) and woody biomass density (31–520 t/ha). S-band backscatter-biomass relationships suggest increasing backscatter sensitivity to forest AGB with least error between 90.63 and 99.39 t/ha and coefficient of determination (r2) between 0.42 and 0.47 for the co-polarised channel at 0.25 ha resolution. The conclusion is that S-band SAR data such as from NovaSAR-S is suitable for monitoring forest aboveground biomass less than 100 t/ha at 25 m resolution in low to medium incidence angle range. View Full-Text
Keywords: Aboveground biomass; S-band SAR; MIMICS-I model; Savernake Forest; Wytham Woods Aboveground biomass; S-band SAR; MIMICS-I model; Savernake Forest; Wytham Woods
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MDPI and ACS Style

Ningthoujam, R.K.; Balzter, H.; Tansey, K.; Morrison, K.; Johnson, S.C.; Gerard, F.; George, C.; Malhi, Y.; Burbidge, G.; Doody, S.; Veck, N.; Llewellyn, G.M.; Blythe, T.; Rodriguez-Veiga, P.; van Beijma, S.; Spies, B.; Barnes, C.; Padilla-Parellada, M.; Wheeler, J.E.; Louis, V.; Potter, T.; Edwards-Smith, A.; Bermejo, J.P. Airborne S-Band SAR for Forest Biophysical Retrieval in Temperate Mixed Forests of the UK. Remote Sens. 2016, 8, 609.

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