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Evaluation of ALOS/PALSAR L-Band data for the estimation of Eucalyptus plantations aboveground biomass in Brazil

Baghdadi N., Le Maire G., Bailly J.S., Osé K., Nouvellon Y., Zribi M., Lemos C., Hakamada R.. 2015. IEEE Journal of Selected Topics in Applied Earth Observations and Remote Sensing, 8 (8) : p. 3802-3811.

The Phased Array L-band Synthetic Aperture Radar (PALSAR-1) has provided very useful images dataset for several applications such as forestry. L-Band radar measurements have been widely used but with somewhat contradictory conclusions on the potential of this radar wavelength to estimate the aboveground biomass (AGB). The first objective of this study was to analyze the L-band SAR backscatter sensitivity to forest biomass for Eucalyptus plantations. The results showed that the radar signal is highly dependent on biomass only for values lower than 50 t/ha, which corresponds to plantations of approximately 3 years of age. Next, random forest (RF) regressions were performed to evaluate the potential of PALSAR data to predict the Eucalyptus biomass. Regressions were constructed to link the biomass to both radar signal and age of plantations. Results showed that the age was the variable that best explained the biomass followed by the PALSAR HV polarized signal. For biomasses lower than 50 t/ha, HV signal and plantation age were found to have the same level of importance in predicting biomass. For biomasses higher than 50 t/ha, plantation age was the main variable in the RF models. The use of PALSAR signal alone did not correctly predict the biomass of Eucalyptus plantations [?2 lower than 0.5 and root-mean-squared error (RMSE) higher than 46.7 t/ha]. The use of plantation age in addition to the PALSAR signal improved slightly the prediction results (?2 increased from 0.88 to 0.92 and RMSE decreased from 22.7 to 18.9 t/ha). PALSAR imagery does not allow a direct estimation of planting date of Eucalyptus stands but can follow efficiently the occurrence of clear-cuts if images are acquired sequentially, therefore allowing a rough estimate of the following plantation date because a stand of Eucalyptus is generally replanted 2-4 months after cutting. With a time series of radar images, it could be, therefore, possible to estimate the pla- tation age, and therefore improving the estimates of plantation biomass. (Résumé d'auteur)

Mots-clés : imagerie; méthode statistique; Âge; rotation de coupe; croissance; dendrométrie; production forestière; radar; télédétection; biomasse; plantation forestière; eucalyptus urophylla; eucalyptus grandis; brésil; arbre à croissance rapide

Thématique : Foresterie - Considérations générales; Production forestière; Méthodes de relevé; Méthodes mathématiques et statistiques

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