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Regional Applicability of Forest Height and Aboveground Biomass Models for the Geoscience Laser Altimeter System

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Accurate estimates of forest aboveground biomass are needed to reduce uncertainties in global and regional terrestrial carbon fluxes. In this study we investigated the utility of the Geoscience Laser Altimeter System (GLAS) onboard the Ice, Cloud and land Elevation Satellite for large-scale biomass inventories. GLAS is the first spaceborne lidar sensor that will provide global estimates of forest height. We compared accuracy and regional variability of GLAS height estimates with data from the US Forest Service Inventory and Analysis (FIA) program and found that current GLAS algorithms provided generally accurate estimates of height. GLAS heights were on average 2–3 m lower than FIA estimates. To translate GLAS-estimated heights into forest biomass will require general allometric equations. Analysis of the regional variability of forest height-biomass relationships using FIA field data indicates that general nonspecies specific equations are applicable without a significant loss of prediction accuracy. We developed biomass models from FIA data and applied them to the GLAS-estimated heights. Regional estimates of forest biomass from GLAS differed between 39.7 and 58.2 Mg ha−1 compared with FIA.

Keywords: Geoscience Laser Altimeter System; forest biomass; forest height; lidar; remote sensing

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: October 1, 2008

More about this publication?
  • Forest Science is a peer-reviewed journal publishing fundamental and applied research that explores all aspects of natural and social sciences as they apply to the function and management of the forested ecosystems of the world. Topics include silviculture, forest management, biometrics, economics, entomology & pathology, fire & fuels management, forest ecology, genetics & tree improvement, geospatial technologies, harvesting & utilization, landscape ecology, operations research, forest policy, physiology, recreation, social sciences, soils & hydrology, and wildlife management.
    Forest Science is published bimonthly in February, April, June, August, October, and December.

    2015 Impact Factor: 1.702
    Ranking: 16 of 66 in forestry

    Also published by SAF:
    Journal of Forestry
    Other SAF Publications
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