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Open AccessArticle

Combination of Multi-Temporal Sentinel 2 Images and Aerial Image Based Canopy Height Models for Timber Volume Modelling

1
Department of Biometrics, Forest Research Institute (FVA) of Baden-Württemberg, Wonnhaldestr. 4, D-79100 Freiburg, Germany
2
Norwegian Institute of Bioeconomy Research (NIBIO), Høgskoleveien 8, 1433 Ås, Norway
*
Authors to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Forests 2019, 10(9), 746; https://doi.org/10.3390/f10090746
Received: 16 July 2019 / Revised: 22 August 2019 / Accepted: 28 August 2019 / Published: 30 August 2019
Multi-temporal Sentinel 2 optical images and 3D photogrammetric point clouds can be combined to enhance the accuracy of timber volume models on large spatial scale. Information on the proportion of broadleaf and conifer trees improves timber volume models obtained from 3D photogrammetric point clouds. However, the broadleaf-conifer information cannot be obtained from photogrammetric point clouds alone. Furthermore, spectral information of aerial images is too inconsistent to be used for automatic broadleaf-conifer classification over larger areas. In this study we combined multi-temporal Sentinel 2 optical satellite images, 3D photogrammetric point clouds from digital aerial stereo photographs, and forest inventory plots representing an area of 35,751 km2 in south-west Germany for (1) modelling the percentage of broadleaf tree volume (BL%) using Sentinel 2 time series and (2) modelling timber volume per hectare using 3D photogrammetric point clouds. Forest inventory plots were surveyed in the same years and regions as stereo photographs were acquired (2013–2017), resulting in 11,554 plots. Sentinel 2 images from 2016 and 2017 were corrected for topographic and atmospheric influences and combined with the same forest inventory plots. Spectral variables from corrected multi-temporal Sentinel 2 images were calculated, and Support Vector Machine (SVM) regressions were fitted for each Sentinel 2 scene estimating the BL% for corresponding inventory plots. Variables from the photogrammetric point clouds were calculated for each inventory plot and a non-linear regression model predicting timber volume per hectare was fitted. Each SVM regression and the timber volume model were evaluated using ten-fold cross-validation (CV). The SVM regression models estimating the BL% per Sentinel 2 scene achieved overall accuracies of 68%–75% and a Root Mean Squared Error (RMSE) of 21.5–26.1. The timber volume model showed a RMSE% of 31.7%, a mean bias of 0.2%, and a pseudo-R2 of 0.64. Application of the SVM regressions on Sentinel 2 scenes covering the state of Baden-Württemberg resulted in predictions of broadleaf tree percentages for the entire state. These predicted values were used as additional predictor in the timber volume model, allowing for predictions of timber volume for the same area. Spatially high-resolution information about growing stock is of great practical relevance for forest management planning, especially when the timber volume of a smaller unit is of interest, for example of a forest stand or a forest district where not enough terrestrial inventory plots are available to make reliable estimations. Here, predictions from remote-sensing based models can be used. Furthermore, information about broadleaf and conifer trees improves timber volume models and reduces model errors and, thereby, prediction uncertainties. View Full-Text
Keywords: remote sensing; satellite images; time series; digital aerial stereo photographs; 3D point clouds; tree genera classification; forest inventory data; forest management plans remote sensing; satellite images; time series; digital aerial stereo photographs; 3D point clouds; tree genera classification; forest inventory data; forest management plans
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Schumacher, J.; Rattay, M.; Kirchhöfer, M.; Adler, P.; Kändler, G. Combination of Multi-Temporal Sentinel 2 Images and Aerial Image Based Canopy Height Models for Timber Volume Modelling. Forests 2019, 10, 746.

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