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Open AccessArticle

Benchmarking the Retrieval of Biomass in Boreal Forests Using P-Band SAR Backscatter with Multi-Temporal C- and L-Band Observations

1
Gamma Remote Sensing, Worbstrasse 225, 3073 Gümligen, Switzerland
2
European Space Agency-ESTEC, 2201 Noordwijk, The Netherlands
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Remote Sens. 2019, 11(14), 1695; https://doi.org/10.3390/rs11141695
Received: 30 May 2019 / Revised: 8 July 2019 / Accepted: 12 July 2019 / Published: 17 July 2019
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Remote Sensing of Boreal Forests)
The planned launch of a spaceborne P-band radar mission and the availability of C- and L-band data from several spaceborne missions suggest investigating the complementarity of C-, L-, and P-band backscatter with respect to the retrieval of forest above-ground biomass. Existing studies on the retrieval of biomass with multi-frequency backscatter relied on single observations of the backscatter and were thus not able to demonstrate the potential of multi-temporal C- and L-band data that are now available from spaceborne missions. Based on spaceborne C- and L-band and airborne P-band images acquired over a forest site in southern Sweden, we investigated whether C- and L-band backscatter may complement retrievals of above-ground biomass from P-band. To this end, a retrieval framework was adopted that utilizes a semi-empirical model for C- and L-bands and an empirical parametric model for P-band. Estimates of above-ground biomass were validated with the aid of 20 m-diameter plots and a LiDAR-derived biomass map with 100 m × 100 m pixel size. The highest retrieval accuracy when not combining frequencies was obtained for P-band with a relative root mean square error (RMSE) of 30% at the hectare scale. The retrieval with multi-temporal L- and C-bands produced errors of the order of 40% and 50%, respectively. The P-band retrieval could be improved for 4% when using P-, L-, and C-bands jointly. The combination of C- and L-bands allowed for retrieval accuracies close to those achieved with P-band. A crucial requirement for achieving an error of 30% with C- and L-bands was the use of multi-temporal observations, which was highlighted by the fact that the retrieval with the best individual L-band image was associated with an error of 61%. The results of this study reconfirmed that P-band is the most suited frequency for the retrieval of above-ground biomass of boreal forests based on backscatter, but also highlight the potential of multi-temporal C- and L-band imagery for mapping above-ground biomass, for instance in areas where the planned ESA BIOMASS P-band mission will not be allowed to acquire data. View Full-Text
Keywords: above-ground biomass; SAR; multi-frequency; multi-temporal; hemi-boreal forest above-ground biomass; SAR; multi-frequency; multi-temporal; hemi-boreal forest
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MDPI and ACS Style

Cartus, O.; Santoro, M.; Wegmüller, U.; Rommen, B. Benchmarking the Retrieval of Biomass in Boreal Forests Using P-Band SAR Backscatter with Multi-Temporal C- and L-Band Observations. Remote Sens. 2019, 11, 1695. https://doi.org/10.3390/rs11141695

AMA Style

Cartus O, Santoro M, Wegmüller U, Rommen B. Benchmarking the Retrieval of Biomass in Boreal Forests Using P-Band SAR Backscatter with Multi-Temporal C- and L-Band Observations. Remote Sensing. 2019; 11(14):1695. https://doi.org/10.3390/rs11141695

Chicago/Turabian Style

Cartus, Oliver; Santoro, Maurizio; Wegmüller, Urs; Rommen, Björn. 2019. "Benchmarking the Retrieval of Biomass in Boreal Forests Using P-Band SAR Backscatter with Multi-Temporal C- and L-Band Observations" Remote Sens. 11, no. 14: 1695. https://doi.org/10.3390/rs11141695

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