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On the retrieving of forest stem volume from VHF SAR data: observation and modeling

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5 Author(s)
P. Melon ; Centre d'Etudes Spatiales de la Biosphere, Toulouse, France ; J. M. Martinez ; T. Le Toan ; L. M. H. Ulander
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Investigates the relationships between VHF data and forest biomass using data acquired by the airborne imaging radar CARABAS over two different pine plantation forests in southern France. Data are analyzed using detailed ground truth measurements available on both sites. The backscattering coefficient is strongly correlated to characteristics of the tree trunk. Signal saturation is not observed up to 900 m3/ha. However, the sensitivity to the volume is high in the range of 0-500 m3/ha (e.g. 1 to 1.5 dB for 50 m3 /ha), whereas it is reduced beyond 500 m3/ha (<0.5 dB for 50 m3/ha). The experimental analysis is supported by theoretical modeling using a coherent backscatter model based on the distorted Born approximation coupled with a tree growth model giving a fine and precise description of the trees at both sites. The modeling results show that the trunk is the main scatterer, but that, when the branch dimensions are not insignificant compared to trunk dimension, branch scattering needs to be accounted for. However, since the two species under study are both coniferous, branch dimensions are relatively small compared to trunk dimension. This explains no significant differences observed in the backscatter behavior between both sites, except for mature stands with low stem density. Finally, the effect of topography is investigated both experimentally, using a digital elevation model, and theoretically with the coherent model. The loss of sensitivity to stem volume due to slope is clearly demonstrated and explained by the decrease of the dihedral trunk-ground interaction as the slope increases

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IEEE Transactions on Geoscience and Remote Sensing  (Volume:39 ,  Issue: 11 )