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Boreal forest coherence-based measures of interferometric pair suitability for operational stem volume retrieval

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3 Author(s)
Engdahl, M.E. ; Sci. & Applic. Dept., Eur. Space Agency, Frascati, Italy ; Pulliainen, J.T. ; Hallikainen, M.T.

The performance of interferometric synthetic aperture radar (INSAR)-based boreal forest stem volume retrieval is strongly affected by weather conditions around the time of the SAR image acquisitions. Since weather conditions cannot be controlled, the suitability of a particular interferometric pair for stem volume retrieval can only be assessed afterward. In this letter, four objective measures based on observed forest coherence were compared in assessing the suitability of interferometric pairs for stem volume retrieval. These suitability measures can be used to identify the best and worst pairs, i.e., the ones with the most and least favorable weather conditions. Stem volume retrievals were performed using single European Remote Sensing (ERS-1/2) Tandem interferometric pairs by inverting a backscattering-coherence model for boreal forests. A total of 14 ERS Tandem image pairs acquired in varying weather conditions were studied, and the stem volume retrieval performance was assessed against ground-based stem volume estimates on 134 boreal forest stands. Stem volume retrieval performance as measured by R2-values between INSAR-estimated stem volumes and ground truth was found to be directly proportional to boreal forest coherence. The interferometric coherence-contrast (ICC), i.e., the difference in coherence between sparsest and densest boreal forest stands was found to be the best of the four studied suitability measures. The ICC could be used as a suitability parameter in the selection of the best interferometric pairs for operational boreal forest stem volume retrieval.

Published in:

Geoscience and Remote Sensing Letters, IEEE  (Volume:1 ,  Issue: 3 )