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Research Pathways of Forest Above-Ground Biomass Estimation Based on SAR Backscatter and Interferometric SAR Observations

Gamma Remote Sensing, Worbstrasse 225, 3073 Gümligen, Switzerland
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Remote Sens. 2018, 10(4), 608;
Received: 8 February 2018 / Revised: 26 March 2018 / Accepted: 11 April 2018 / Published: 14 April 2018
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Biomass Remote Sensing in Forest Landscapes)
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Estimation of forest biomass with synthetic aperture radar (SAR) and interferometric SAR (InSAR) observables has been surveyed in 186 peer-reviewed papers to identify major research pathways in terms of data used and retrieval models. Research evaluated primarily (i) L-band observations of SAR backscatter; and, (ii) single-image or multi-polarized retrieval schemes. The use of multi-temporal or multi-frequency data improved the biomass estimates when compared to single-image retrieval. Low frequency SAR backscatter contributed the most to the biomass estimates. Single-pass InSAR height was reported to be a more reliable predictor of biomass, overcoming the loss of sensitivity of SAR backscatter and coherence in high biomass forest. A variety of empirical and semi-empirical regression models relating biomass to the SAR observables were proposed. Semi-empirical models were mostly used for large-scale mapping because of the simple formulation and the robustness of the model parameters estimates to forest structure and environmental conditions. Non-parametric models were appraised for their capability to ingest multiple observations and perform accurate retrievals having a large number of training samples available. Some studies argued that estimating compartment biomass (in stems, branches, foliage) with different types of SAR observations would lead to an improved estimate of total biomass. Although promising, scientific evidence for such an assumption is still weak. The increased availability of free and open SAR observations from currently orbiting and forthcoming spaceborne SAR missions will foster studies on forest biomass retrieval. Approaches attempting to maximize the information content on biomass of individual data streams shall be pursued. View Full-Text
Keywords: SAR; forest; above-ground biomass; backscatter; interferometry; coherence; retrieval SAR; forest; above-ground biomass; backscatter; interferometry; coherence; retrieval

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Santoro, M.; Cartus, O. Research Pathways of Forest Above-Ground Biomass Estimation Based on SAR Backscatter and Interferometric SAR Observations. Remote Sens. 2018, 10, 608.

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