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Airborne SAR monitoring of tree growth in a coniferous plantation

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This paper examines three empirically based methods of monitoring forest growth between 1991 and 2000 from airborne synthetic aperture radar (SAR). In the first method, height change and volume change between 1991 and 2000 were estimated from the mean L-band stand backscatter difference between the two dates. Height change and volume change over the 9-year period were estimated with an accuracy of 0.23 m and 15 m3 ha-1, respectively, when the stands were below saturation point for the first date. The accuracy of the results was lower for stands beyond saturation in both data sets. In the second method, the height change is calculated from the estimated stand height in 2000 minus the estimated stand height in 1991. The second method produced poorer results than the first method, but better results than predicted by the error propagation equation. The difference between the observed accuracy and the expected error (based on the error propagation equation) appears to be due to a systematic bias in both the 1991 and 2000 estimates, as the residuals are correlated for stands below 20 years old (r = 0.71 for stand volume residuals). The third experiment investigates the utility of data from two dates to classify the stands into three age classes. The results show that, with two images separated by 9 years, 85% of stands were correctly classified compared with 69% for a single date L-HV image.

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: Centre for Ecology and Hydrology Monks Wood, Section for Earth Observation, Huntingdon PE28 2LS, UK 2: University of Leicester, Department of Geography, Leicester LE1 7RH, UK 3: Centre for Environmental Change and Sustainability (CECS), University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh EH9 3JK, UK 4: Department of Geography, University of Wales, Swansea SA2 8PP, UK 5: School of GeoSciences, University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh EH8 9XP, UK

Publication date: January 1, 2008

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