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Open AccessArticle

Synthesis of L-Band SAR and Forest Heights Derived from TanDEM-X DEM and 3 Digital Terrain Models for Biomass Mapping

1
Graduate School of Agriculture, Hokkaido University, Sapporo 060-8589, Japan
2
Field Science Center for Northern Biosphere, Hokkaido University, Sapporo 060-0809, Japan
3
Graduate School of Environmental Science, Hokkaido University, Sapporo 060-0810, Japan
4
The Earth Observation Research Center, Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), Tsukuba 305-8505, Japan
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Remote Sens. 2020, 12(3), 349; https://doi.org/10.3390/rs12030349
Received: 29 October 2019 / Revised: 12 January 2020 / Accepted: 13 January 2020 / Published: 21 January 2020
(This article belongs to the Special Issue 3D Forest Structure Observation)
In this study, we compared the accuracies of above-ground biomass (AGB) estimated by integrating ALOS (Advanced Land Observing Satellite) PALSAR (Phased-Array-Type L-Band Synthetic Aperture Radar) data and TanDEM-X-derived forest heights (TDX heights) at four scales from 1/4 to 25 ha in a hemi-boreal forest in Japan. The TDX heights developed in this study included nine canopy height models (CHMs) and three model-based forest heights (ModelHs); the nine CHMs were derived from the three digital surface models (DSMs) of (I) TDX 12 m DEM (digital elevation model) product, (II) TDX 90 m DEM product and (III) TDX 5 m DSM, which we developed from two TDX–TSX (TerraSAR-X) image pairs for reference, and the three digital terrain models (DTMs) of (i) an airborne Light Detection and Ranging (LiDAR)-based DTM (LiDAR DTM), (ii) a topography-based DTM and (iii) the Shuttle Radar Topography Mission (SRTM) DEM; the three ModelHs were developed from the two TDX-TSX image pairs used in (III) and the three DTMs (i to iii) with the Sinc inversion model. In total, 12 AGB estimation models were developed for comparison. In this study, we included the C-band SRTM DEM as one of the DTMs. According to Walker et al. (2007), the SRTM DEM serves as a DTM for most of the Earth’s surface, except for the areas with extensive tree and/or shrub coverage, e.g., the boreal and Amazon regions. As our test site is located in a hemi-boreal zone with medium forest cover, we tested the ability of the SRTM DEM to serve as a DTM in our test site. This study especially aimed to analyze the capability of the two TDX DEM products (I and II) to estimate AGB in practice in the hemi-boreal region, and to examine how the different forest height creation methods (the simple DSM and DTM subtraction for the nine CHMs and the Sinc inversion model-based approach for the three ModelHs) and the different spatial resolutions of the three DSMs and three DTMs affected the AGB estimation results. We also conducted the slope-class analysis to see how the varying slopes influenced the AGB estimation accuracies. The results show that the combined use of the PALSAR data and the CHM derived from (I) TDX 12 m DEM and (i) LiDAR DTM achieved the highest AGB estimation accuracies across the scales (R2 ranged from 0.82 to 0.97), but the CHMs derived from (I) TDX 12 m DEM and another two DTMs, (ii) and (iii), showed low R2 values at any scales. In contrast, the two CHMs derived from (II) TDX 90 m DEM and both (i) LiDAR DTM and (iii) SRTM DEM showed high R2 values > 0.87 and 0.78, respectively, at the scales > 9.0 ha, but they yielded much lower R2 values at smaller scales. The three ModelHs gave the lowest R2 values across the scales (R2 ranged from 0.39 to 0.60). Analyzed by slope class at the 1.0 ha scale, however, all the 12 AGB estimation models yielded high R2 values > 0.66 at the lowest slope class (0° to 9.9°), including the three ModelHs (R2 ranged between 0.68 to 0.69). The two CHMs derived from (II) TDX 90 m DEM and both (i) LiDAR DTM and (iii) SRTM DEM showed R2 values of 0.80 and 0.71, respectively, at the lowest slope class, while the CHM derived from (I) TDX 12 m DEM and (i) LiDAR DTM showed high R2 values across the slope classes (R2 > 0.82). The results show that (I) TDX 12 m DEM had a high capability to estimate AGB, with a high accuracy across the scales and the slope classes in the form of CHM, but the use of (i) LiDAR DTM was required. On the other hand, (II) TDX 90 m DEM was able to achieve high AGB estimation accuracies not only with (i) LiDAR DTM, but also with (iii) SRTM DEM in the form of CHM, but it was limited to large scales > 9.0 ha; however, all the models developed in this study have the possibility to achieve higher AGB estimation accuracies at the 1.0 ha scale in flat terrains with slope < 10°. The analysis showed the strengths and limitations of each model, and it also indicates that the data creation methods, the spatial resolutions of datasets and topographic features affects the effective spatial scales for AGB mapping, and the optimal combinations of these features should be chosen to obtain high AGB estimation accuracies. View Full-Text
Keywords: forest above-ground biomass (AGB); TanDEM-X DEM; ALOS/PALSAR; SRTM DEM; LiDAR; canopy height model; Sinc inversion model forest above-ground biomass (AGB); TanDEM-X DEM; ALOS/PALSAR; SRTM DEM; LiDAR; canopy height model; Sinc inversion model
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MDPI and ACS Style

Hojo, A.; Takagi, K.; Avtar, R.; Tadono, T.; Nakamura, F. Synthesis of L-Band SAR and Forest Heights Derived from TanDEM-X DEM and 3 Digital Terrain Models for Biomass Mapping. Remote Sens. 2020, 12, 349.

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