Information on the spatial distribution of forest structure parameters (e.g., aboveground biomass, vegetation height) are crucial for assessing terrestrial carbon stocks and emissions. In this study, we sought to assess the potential and merit of multi-temporal dual-polarised L-band observations for vegetation height estimation in tropical deciduous and evergreen forests of Mexico. We estimated vegetation height using dual-polarised L-band observations and a machine learning approach. We used airborne LiDAR-based vegetation height for model training and for result validation. We split LiDAR-based vegetation height into training and test data using two different approaches, i.e., considering and ignoring spatial autocorrelation between training and test data. Our results indicate that ignoring spatial autocorrelation leads to an overoptimistic model’s predictive performance. Accordingly, a spatial splitting of the reference data should be preferred in order to provide realistic retrieval accuracies. Moreover, the model’s predictive performance increases with an increasing number of spatial predictors and training samples, but saturates at a specific level (i.e., at 12 dual-polarised L-band backscatter measurements and at around 20% of all training samples). In consideration of spatial autocorrelation between training and test data, we determined an optimal number of L-band observations and training samples as a trade-off between retrieval accuracy and data collection effort. In summary, our study demonstrates the merit of multi-temporal ScanSAR L-band observations for estimation of vegetation height at a larger scale and provides a workflow for robust predictions of this parameter.
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