Special Issue "Modeling Saturation of Spectral Reflectance and Radar Data and Developing Corresponding Methods for Biomass Estimation of Various Forests"

A special issue of Remote Sensing (ISSN 2072-4292). This special issue belongs to the section "Forest Remote Sensing".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (31 December 2019).

Special Issue Editors

Prof. Dr. Guangxing Wang
Website
Guest Editor
Southern Illinois University, Department of Geography and Environmental Resources
Interests: remote sensing; GIS; spatial statistics; natural and environmental resources; sampling design; environmental quality assessment; forest and city vegetation carbon sequestration; desertification trend monitoring; quality assessment and spatial uncertainty analysis
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Prof. Dr. Dengsheng Lu
Website SciProfiles
Guest Editor
School of Geographic Sciences, Fujian Normal University, No.8 Shangsan Road, Cangshan District, Fuzhou, Fujian, China 350007
Interests: Remote sensing, urban and environment interaction, forest carbon modeling
Special Issues and Collections in MDPI journals
Prof. Dr. Qi Chen
Website
Guest Editor
Department of Geography, University of Hawaiˈi at Mānoa, 2424 Maile Way, Honolulu, HI 96822, USA
Interests: LiDAR remote sensing of vegetation; statistical learning; mathematical models; geospatial analysis
Special Issues and Collections in MDPI journals
Prof. Dr. Markus Holopainen

Guest Editor
Department of Forest Resource Management, University of Helsinki, Helsinki, Finland
Interests: forest biomass estimation using remotely sensed data including optical images and LiDAR data
Special Issues and Collections in MDPI journals
Dr. Liyong Fu

Guest Editor
Research Institute of Forest Resource Information Techniques, Chinese Academy of Forestry, Beijing 100091, China
Interests: forest growth and yield modeling, forest biomass estimation

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Forests play a critical role in reducing carbon concentrations in the atmosphere and in the mitigation of global warming. Thus, accurately estimating and mapping forest biomass/carbon at regional, national and global scales is very important. Various remotely sensed data including optical images, LiDAR and radar data have been used for the purpose. However, saturation of spectral reflectance and radar data impedes the increase of estimation accuracy of forest biomass/carbon, and currently there have been only few reports that deal with examining the saturation and searching for corresponding solutions. LiDAR data provide a solution for the purpose, but, their applications are limited because of high cost for estimating and mapping forest biomass/carbon for large areas. Therefore, there is strong need of modeling the saturation of spectral reflectance and radar data for biomass/carbon estimation of various forests and developing corresponding methods.

This Special Issue, "Modeling Saturation of Spectral Reflectance and Radar Data and Developing Corresponding Methods for Biomass Estimation of Various Forests”, will call for papers that demonstrate the original research that can overcome current significant gaps in examining the saturation of spectral reflectance and radar data and develop corresponding solutions. Review articles are also welcome. The topics will include: 1) examining the saturation of spectral reflectance of optical images for estimating and mapping biomass/carbon of various forest ecosystems; 2) examining the saturation of radar data for estimating and mapping biomass/carbon of various forest ecosystems; and 3) developing new methods and algorithms for overcoming the saturations.

Prof. Dr. Guangxing Wang
Prof. Dr. Dengsheng Lu
Prof. Dr. Qi Chen
Prof. Dr. Markus Holopainen
Dr. Liyong Fu
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

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Published Papers (8 papers)

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Open AccessArticle
Prediction of Individual Tree Diameter Using a Nonlinear Mixed-Effects Modeling Approach and Airborne LiDAR Data
Remote Sens. 2020, 12(7), 1066; https://doi.org/10.3390/rs12071066 - 26 Mar 2020
Cited by 2
Abstract
Rapidly advancing airborne laser scanning technology has become greatly useful to estimate tree- and stand-level variables at a large scale using high spatial resolution data. Compared with that of ground measurements, the accuracy of the inferred information of diameter at breast height ( [...] Read more.
Rapidly advancing airborne laser scanning technology has become greatly useful to estimate tree- and stand-level variables at a large scale using high spatial resolution data. Compared with that of ground measurements, the accuracy of the inferred information of diameter at breast height (DBH) from a remotely sensed database and the models developed with traditional regression approaches (e.g., ordinary least square regression) may not be sufficient. Thus, this regression approach is no longer appropriate to develop accurate models and predict DBH from remotely sensed-related variables because DBH is subject to the random effects of forest stands. This study developed a generalized nonlinear mixed-effects DBH estimation model from remotely sensed imagery data. The light detection and ranging (LiDAR)-derived stand canopy density, crown projection area, and tree height were used as predictors in the DBH estimation model. These variables can be more readily measured over an extensive forest area with higher accuracy compared to the conventional field-based methods. The airborne LiDAR data for a total of 402 Picea crassifolia Kom trees on a sample plot that were divided into 16 sub-sample plots and located in the most important distribution region of western China were used. The leave-one sub-sample plot-out cross-validation method was applied to evaluate the model’s prediction accuracy. The results indicated that the random effects of the sub-sample plot on the prediction of DBH were large and their inclusion into the DBH model significantly improved the prediction accuracy. The prediction accuracy of the proposed model at the mean (M) response was also substantially improved relative to the accuracy obtained from the base model. Among several tree selection alternatives evaluated, a sample size of the two largest trees per sub-sample plot used in estimating the random effects showed a significantly higher accuracy compared to other sampling alternatives. This sample size would balance both the measurement cost and potential prediction errors. The nonlinear mixed-effects DBH estimation model at the M response can also be applied if obtaining the estimates of individual tree DBH with a relatively lower cost, and a lower prediction accuracy was the purpose of the study. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Estimating the Growing Stem Volume of Chinese Pine and Larch Plantations based on Fused Optical Data Using an Improved Variable Screening Method and Stacking Algorithm
Remote Sens. 2020, 12(5), 871; https://doi.org/10.3390/rs12050871 - 09 Mar 2020
Cited by 1
Abstract
Accurately estimating growing stem volume (GSV) is very important for forest resource management. The GSV estimation is affected by remote sensing images, variable selection methods, and estimation algorithms. Optical images have been widely used for modeling key attributes of forest stands, including GSV [...] Read more.
Accurately estimating growing stem volume (GSV) is very important for forest resource management. The GSV estimation is affected by remote sensing images, variable selection methods, and estimation algorithms. Optical images have been widely used for modeling key attributes of forest stands, including GSV and aboveground biomass (AGB), because of their easy availability, large coverage and related mature data processing and analysis technologies. However, the low data saturation level and the difficulty of selecting feature variables from optical images often impede the improvement of estimation accuracy. In this research, two GaoFen-2 (GF-2) images, a Landsat 8 image, and fused images created by integrating GF-2 bands with the Landsat multispectral image using the Gram–Schmidt method were first used to derive various feature variables and obtain various datasets or data scenarios. A DC-FSCK approach that integrates feature variable screening and a combination optimization procedure based on the distance correlation coefficient and k-nearest neighbors (kNN) algorithm was proposed and compared with the stepwise regression analysis (SRA) and random forest (RF) for feature variable selection. The DC-FSCK considers the self-correlation and combination effect among feature variables so that the selected variables can improve the accuracy and saturation level of GSV estimation. To validate the proposed approach, six estimation algorithms were examined and compared, including Multiple Linear Regression (MLR), kNN, Support Vector Regression (SVR), RF, eXtreme Gradient Boosting (XGBoost) and Stacking. The results showed that compared with GF-2 and Landsat 8 images, overall, the fused image (Red_Landsat) of GF-2 red band with Landsat 8 multispectral image improved the GSV estimation accuracy of Chinese pine and larch plantations. The Red_Landsat image also performed better than other fused images (Pan_Landsat, Blue_Landsat, Green_Landsat and Nir_Landsat). For most of the combinations of the datasets and estimation models, the proposed variable selection method DC-FSCK led to more accurate GSV estimates compared with SRA and RF. In addition, in most of the combinations obtained by the datasets and variable selection methods, the Stacking algorithm performed better than other estimation models. More importantly, the combination of the fused image Red_Landsat with the DC-FSCK and Stacking algorithm led to the best performance of GSV estimation with the greatest adjusted coefficients of determination, 0.8127 and 0.6047, and the smallest relative root mean square errors of 17.1% and 20.7% for Chinese pine and larch, respectively. This study provided new insights on how to choose suitable optical images, variable selection methods and optimal modeling algorithms for the GSV estimation of Chinese pine and larch plantations. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Deriving Individual-Tree Biomass from Effective Crown Data Generated by Terrestrial Laser Scanning
Remote Sens. 2019, 11(23), 2793; https://doi.org/10.3390/rs11232793 - 26 Nov 2019
Abstract
Biomass reflects the state of forest management and is critical for assessing forest benefits and carbon storage. The effective crown is the region above the lower limit of the forest crown that includes the maximum vertical distribution density of branches and leaves; this [...] Read more.
Biomass reflects the state of forest management and is critical for assessing forest benefits and carbon storage. The effective crown is the region above the lower limit of the forest crown that includes the maximum vertical distribution density of branches and leaves; this component plays an important role in tree growth. Adding the effective crown to biomass equations can enhance the accuracy of the derived biomass. Six sample plots in a larch plantation (ranging in area from 0.06 ha to 0.12 ha and in number of trees from 63 to 96) at the Mengjiagang forest farm in Huanan County, Jiamusi City, Heilongjiang Province, China, were analyzed in this study. Terrestrial laser scanning (TLS) was used to obtain three-dimensional point cloud data on the trees, from which crown parameters at different heights were extracted. These parameters were used to determine the position of the effective crown. Moreover, effective crown parameters were added to biomass equations with tree height as the sole variable to improve the accuracy of the derived individual-tree biomass estimates. The results showed that the minimum crown contact height was very similar to the effective crown height, and an increase in model accuracy was apparent (with R a 2 increasing from 0.846 to 0.910 and root-mean-square error (RMSE) decreasing from 0.372 kg to 0.286 kg). The optimal model for deriving biomass included tree height, crown length from minimum contact height, crown height from minimum contact height, and crown surface area from minimum contact height. The novelty of the article is that it improves the fit of individual-tree biomass models by adding crown-related variables and investigates how the accuracy of biomass estimation can be enhanced by using remote sensing methods without obtaining diameter at breast height. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Improving Forest Aboveground Biomass Estimation of Pinus densata Forest in Yunnan of Southwest China by Spatial Regression using Landsat 8 Images
Remote Sens. 2019, 11(23), 2750; https://doi.org/10.3390/rs11232750 - 22 Nov 2019
Abstract
Uncertainties in forest aboveground biomass (AGB) estimates resulting from over- and underestimations using remote sensing data have been widely studied. The uncertainties may occur due to the spatial effects of the plot data. In this study, we collected AGB data from a total [...] Read more.
Uncertainties in forest aboveground biomass (AGB) estimates resulting from over- and underestimations using remote sensing data have been widely studied. The uncertainties may occur due to the spatial effects of the plot data. In this study, we collected AGB data from a total of 147 Pinus densata forest sample plots in Yunnan of southwestern China and analyzed the spatial effects on the estimation of AGB. An ordinary least squares (OLS) and four spatial regression methods were compared for the estimation using Landsat 8-OLI images. Through the spatial analysis of AGB and residuals of model predictions, it was found that the spatial autocorrelation and heterogeneity of the plot data could not be ignored. Compared with the OLS, the impact of the spatial effects on AGB estimation could be reduced slightly by the spatial lag model (SLM) and the spatial error model (SEM) and greatly reduced by the linear mixed effects model (LMM) and geographically weighted regression (GWR) based on the distributions of prediction residuals, global Moran’s I, and Z score. The spatial regression models had better performance for model fitting and prediction because of the reduction in overestimations and underestimations for the forests with small and large AGB values, respectively. However, the reductions in the overestimations and underestimations varied depending on the spatial regression models. The GWR provided the most accurate predictions with the largest R2 (0.665), the smallest root mean square error (34.507), and mean relative error (−9.070%) by greatly reducing the AGB interval for overestimations occurring and significantly increasing the threshold of AGB from 150 Mg/ha to 200 Mg/ha for underestimations. Thus, GWR offered the greatest potential of improving the estimation of Pinus densata forest AGB in Yunnan of southwestern China. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Mapping Growing Stem Volume of Chinese Fir Plantation Using a Saturation-based Multivariate Method and Quad-polarimetric SAR Images
Remote Sens. 2019, 11(16), 1872; https://doi.org/10.3390/rs11161872 - 10 Aug 2019
Cited by 2
Abstract
For the planning and sustainable management of forest resources, well-managed plantations are of great significance to mitigate the decrease of forested areas. Monitoring these planted forests is essential for forest resource inventories. In this study, two ALOS PALSAR-2 quad-polarimetric synthetic aperture radar (SAR) [...] Read more.
For the planning and sustainable management of forest resources, well-managed plantations are of great significance to mitigate the decrease of forested areas. Monitoring these planted forests is essential for forest resource inventories. In this study, two ALOS PALSAR-2 quad-polarimetric synthetic aperture radar (SAR) images and ground measurements were employed to estimate growing stem volume (GSV) of Chinese fir plantations located in a hilly area of southern China. To investigate the relationships between forest GSV and polarization characteristics, single and fused variables were derived by the Yamaguchi decomposition and the saturation value of GSV was estimated using a semi-exponential empirical model as a base model. Based on the estimated saturation values and relative root mean square error (RRMSE), the single and fused characteristics and corresponding models were selected and integrated, which led to a novel saturation-based multivariate method used to improve the GSV estimation and mapping of Chinese fir plantations. The new findings included: (1) All the original polarimetric characteristics, statistically, were not significantly correlated with the forest GSV, and their logarithm and ratio transformation fused variables greatly improved the correlations, thus the estimation accuracy of the forest GSV. (2) The logarithm transformation of surface scattering resulted in the greatest saturation, value but the logarithm transformation of double-bounce scattering resulted in the smallest RRMSE of the GSV estimates. (3) Compared with the single transformations, the fused variables led to more reasonable saturation values and obviously reduced the values of RRMSE. (4) The saturation-based multivariate method led to more accurate estimates of the forest GSV than the univariate method, with the smallest value (29.64%) of RRMSE achieved using the set of six variables. This implied that the novel saturation-based multivariate method provided greater potential to improve the estimation and mapping of the forest GSV. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Improving Aboveground Biomass Estimation of Pinus densata Forests in Yunnan Using Landsat 8 Imagery by Incorporating Age Dummy Variable and Method Comparison
Remote Sens. 2019, 11(7), 738; https://doi.org/10.3390/rs11070738 - 27 Mar 2019
Cited by 7
Abstract
Optical remote sensing data have been widely used for estimating forest aboveground biomass (AGB). However, the use of optical images is often restricted by the saturation of spectral reflectance for forests that have multilayered and complex canopy structures and high AGB values and [...] Read more.
Optical remote sensing data have been widely used for estimating forest aboveground biomass (AGB). However, the use of optical images is often restricted by the saturation of spectral reflectance for forests that have multilayered and complex canopy structures and high AGB values and by the effect of spectral reflectance from underlayer shrub, grass, and bare soil for young stands. This usually leads to overestimations and underestimations for smaller and larger values, respectively, and makes it very challenging to improve the estimation accuracy of forest AGB. In this study, a novel methodology was proposed by incorporating stand age as a dummy variable into four models to improve the estimation accuracy of the Pinus densata forest AGB in Yunnan of Southwestern China. A total of eight models, including two parametric models (LM: linear regression model and LMC: LM with combined variables), two nonparametric models (RF: random forest and ANN: artificial neural network) without the age dummy variable, and four corresponding models with the age dummy variable (DLM, DLMC, DRF, and DANN), were compared to estimate AGB. Landsat 8 Operational Land Imager (OLI) images and 147 sample plots were acquired and utilized. The results showed that (1) compared with the two parametric models, the two nonparametric algorithms resulted in significantly greater estimation accuracies of Pinus densata forest AGB, and the increases of accuracy varied from 8% to 32% for 100 modeling plots and from 12% to 35% for 47 test plots based on root mean square error (RMSE); (2) compared with the models without the age dummy variable, the models with the age dummy variable greatly reduced the overestimations for the plots with AGB values smaller than 70 Mg/ha and the underestimations for the plots with AGB values larger than 180 Mg/ha and, thus, significantly improved the overall estimation accuracy by 14% to 42% for the modeling plots and by 32% to 44% for the test plots based on RMSE; and (3) the texture measures derived from the Landsat 8 OLI images contributed more to improving the estimation accuracy than the original spectral bands and other transformations. This implied that two nonparametric models, coupled with the use of the age dummy variable and texture measures, offered a great potential for improving the estimation accuracy of Pinus densata forest AGB. Full article
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Open AccessFeature PaperLetter
Integration of ZiYuan-3 Multispectral and Stereo Data for Modeling Aboveground Biomass of Larch Plantations in North China
Remote Sens. 2019, 11(19), 2328; https://doi.org/10.3390/rs11192328 - 08 Oct 2019
Cited by 2
Abstract
Data saturation in optical sensor data has long been recognized as a major factor that causes underestimation of aboveground biomass (AGB) for forest sites having high AGB, but there is a lack of suitable approaches to solve this problem. The objective of this [...] Read more.
Data saturation in optical sensor data has long been recognized as a major factor that causes underestimation of aboveground biomass (AGB) for forest sites having high AGB, but there is a lack of suitable approaches to solve this problem. The objective of this research was to understand how incorporation of forest canopy features into high spatial resolution optical sensor data improves forest AGB estimation. Therefore, we explored the use of ZiYuan-3 (ZY-3) satellite imagery, including multispectral and stereo data, for AGB estimation of larch plantations in North China. The relative canopy height (RCH) image was calculated from the difference of digital surface model (DSM) data at leaf-on and leaf-off seasons, which were extracted from the ZY-3 stereo images. Image segmentation was conducted using eCognition on the basis of the fused ZY-3 multispectral and panchromatic data. Spectral bands, vegetation indices, textural images, and RCH-based variables based on this segment image were extracted. Linear regression was used to develop forest AGB estimation models, where the dependent variable was AGB from sample plots, and explanatory variables were from the aforementioned remote-sensing variables. The results indicated that incorporation of RCH-based variables and spectral data considerably improved AGB estimation performance when compared with the use of spectral data alone. The RCH-variable successfully reduced the data saturation problem. This research indicated that the combined use of RCH-variables and spectral data provided more accurate AGB estimation for larch plantations than the use of spectral data alone. Specifically, the root mean squared error (RMSE), relative RMSE, and mean absolute error values were 33.89 Mg/ha, 29.57%, and 30.68 Mg/ha, respectively, when using the spectral-only model, but they become 24.49 Mg/ha, 21.37%, and 20.37 Mg/ha, respectively, when using the combined model with RCH variables and spectral band. This proposed approach provides a new insight in reducing the data saturation problem. Full article
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Open AccessTechnical Note
Airborne LIDAR-Derived Aboveground Biomass Estimates Using a Hierarchical Bayesian Approach
Remote Sens. 2019, 11(9), 1050; https://doi.org/10.3390/rs11091050 - 03 May 2019
Abstract
Conventional ground survey data are very accurate, but expensive. Airborne lidar data can reduce the costs and effort required to conduct large-scale forest surveys. It is critical to improve biomass estimation and evaluate carbon stock when we use lidar data. Bayesian methods integrate [...] Read more.
Conventional ground survey data are very accurate, but expensive. Airborne lidar data can reduce the costs and effort required to conduct large-scale forest surveys. It is critical to improve biomass estimation and evaluate carbon stock when we use lidar data. Bayesian methods integrate prior information about unknown parameters, reduce the parameter estimation uncertainty, and improve model performance. This study focused on predicting the independent tree aboveground biomass (AGB) with a hierarchical Bayesian model using airborne LIDAR data and comparing the hierarchical Bayesian model with classical methods (nonlinear mixed effect model, NLME). Firstly, we chose the best diameter at breast height (DBH) model from several widely used models through a hierarchical Bayesian method. Secondly, we used the DBH predictions together with the tree height (LH) and canopy projection area (CPA) derived by airborne lidar as independent variables to develop the AGB model through a hierarchical Bayesian method with parameter priors from the NLME method. We then compared the hierarchical Bayesian method with the NLME method. The results showed that the two methods performed similarly when pooling the data, while for small sample sizes, the Bayesian method was much better than the classical method. The results of this study imply that the Bayesian method has the potential to improve the estimations of both DBH and AGB using LIDAR data, which reduces costs compared with conventional measurements. Full article
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