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Biomass of dense forests related to L-Band SAR backscatter ?

Mermoz S., Rejou-Mechain M., Villard L., Le Toan T., Rossi V., Gourlet-Fleury S.. 2014. In : IEEE. International Geoscience and Remote Sensing Symposium (IGARSS 2014), Québec, Canada, July 13-18, 2014. New-York : s.n., p. 1037-1040. International Geoscience and Remote Sensing Symposium, 2014-07-13/2014-07-18, Québec (Canada).

DOI: 10.1109/IGARSS.2014.6946605

Synthetic aperture radar (SAR) is one of the most promising remote sensor to map forest carbon. The unique spaceborne and long-wavelength SAR data currently available are L-band data, but their relationship with forest biomass is still under controversy, particularly for high biomass values. While many studies assume a complete loss of sensitivity above a saturation point, typically around 100 t.ha-1, others assume a continuous positive correlation between SAR backscatter and biomass. The objective of this paper is to revisit the relationship between L-band SAR backscatter and dense tropical forest biomass for a large range of biomass values, using both theoretical and experimental approaches. Both approaches revealed that after reaching a maximum value, SAR backscatter correlates negatively with forest biomass. This phenomenon is interpreted as a signal attenuation from the forest canopy as the canopy becomes denser. This result has strong implication for L-band vegetation mapping as it can lead to a more-than-expected biomass under-estimation.

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