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Regional scale rain-forest height mapping using regression-kriging of spaceborne and airborne lidar data: application on French Guiana

Fayad I., Baghdadi N., Bailly J.S., Barbier N., Gond V., Hérault B., El Hajj M., Lochard J., Perrin J.. 2015. In : Proceedings IGARSS 2015 Remote sensing: understanding the earth for a safer world. Piscataway : IEEE, p. 4109-4112. International Geoscience and Remote Sensing Symposium, 2015-07/2015-07, Milan (Italie).

DOI: 10.1109/IGARSS.2015.7326729

LiDAR remote sensing has been shown to be a good technique for the estimation of forest parameters such as canopy heights and aboveground biomass. Whilst airborne LiDAR data are in general very dense but only available over small areas due to the cost of their acquisition, spaceborne LiDAR data acquired from the Geoscience Laser Altimeter System (GLAS) have a coarser acquisition density associated with a global cover. It is therefore valuable to analyze the integration relevance of canopy heights estimated from LiDAR sensors with ancillary data such as geological, meteorological, and phenological variables in order to propose a forest canopy height map with good precision and high spatial resolution. In this study, canopy heights extracted from both airborne and spaceborne LiDAR, were first extrapolated from available environmental data. The estimated canopy height maps using random forest (RF) regression from the airborne or GLAS calibration datasets showed similar precisions (RMSE better than 6.5 m). In order to improve the precision of the canopy height estimates regression-kriging (kriging of RF regression residuals) was used. Results indicated an improvement in the RMSE (decrease from 6.5 to 4.2 m) for the regression-kriging maps from the GLAS dataset, and from 5.8 to 1.8 m for the regression-kriging map from the airborne LiDAR dataset.

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