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Remote Sens. 2015, 7(7), 9410-9430;

Potential of C and X Band SAR for Shrub Growth Monitoring in Sub-Arctic Environments

Centre Eau Terre Environnement, Institut National de la Recherche Scientifique (INRS), 490 de la Couronne, Quebec City, QC G1K 9A9, Canada
Centre d’études Nordiques, Laval University, Pavillon Abitibi-Price 2405, rue de la Terrasse Local 1202, Quebec City, QC G1V 0A6, Canada
DÃl’partement des sciences de l’environnement, Université du Québec à Trois-Rivières, 3351, boul. des Forges, Trois-Rivières, QC G9A 5H7, Canada
Ministère du Développpement Durable, de l’Environnement et Lutte Contre les Changements Climatiques, Édifice Marie-Guyart, 4e étage 675, Boulevard René-Lévesque Est, Quebec City, QC G1R 5V7, Canada
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editors: Santonu Goswami, Daniel J. Hayes, Guido Grosse, Benjamin Jones, Nicolas Baghdadi and Prasad S. Thenkabail
Received: 8 June 2015 / Revised: 8 July 2015 / Accepted: 15 July 2015 / Published: 22 July 2015
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Remote Sensing of Changing Northern High Latitude Ecosystems)
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The Arctic and sub-Arctic environments have seen a rapid growth of shrub vegetation at the expense of the Arctic tundra in recent decades. In order to develop better tools to assess and understand this phenomenon, the sensitivity of multi-polarized SAR backscattering at C and X band to shrub density and height is studied under various conditions. RADARSAT-2 and TerraSAR-X images were acquired from November 2011 to March 2012 over the Umiujaq community in northern Quebec (56.55°N, 76.55°W) and compared to in situ measurements of shrub vegetation density and height collected during the summer of 2009. The results show that σ0 is sensitive to changes in shrub coverage up to 20% and is sensitive to changes in shrub height up to around 1 m. The cross-polarized backscattering (σ0 HV ) displays the best sensitivity to both shrub height and density, and RADARSAT-2 is more sensitive to shrub height, as TerraSAR-X tends to saturate more rapidly with increasing volume scattering from the shrub branches. These results demonstrate that SAR data could provide essential information, not only on the spatial expansion of shrub vegetation, but also on its vertical growth, especially at early stages of colonization. View Full-Text
Keywords: shrub vegetation; sub-Arctic environments; SAR; RADARSAT-2; TerraSAR-X shrub vegetation; sub-Arctic environments; SAR; RADARSAT-2; TerraSAR-X

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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 (CC BY 4.0).

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Duguay, Y.; Bernier, M.; Lévesque, E.; Tremblay, B. Potential of C and X Band SAR for Shrub Growth Monitoring in Sub-Arctic Environments. Remote Sens. 2015, 7, 9410-9430.

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