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On the influence of canopy structure on the radar backscattering of mangrove forests

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This paper is the third of a series which aims to evaluate the effects of canopy structure on the polarimetric radar response of mangrove forests. It complements the experimental and theoretical study of closed canopies presented in the previous papers by analysing two different mangrove stands of equal biomass but which greatly differ in their structure. For the three considered frequencies (C-, L- and P-band), experimental observations show that the back-scattering from the open declining stand is higher than that of the closed forest. The corresponding enhancement factor increases with wavelength and shows maximum values for the HH polarization. The identification of the scattering mechanisms occurring between the incident radar wave and the forest components was performed with the assistance of a polarimetric scattering model based on a radiative transfer approach. For the co-polarizations, results of the simulation study confirm that the backscatter enhancement is mainly due to an increase of either the surface scattering or the interaction component. For the cross-polarization HV at L- and P-bands, the increase of the volume component, originating from a stronger interaction with bigger branches, is found to be responsible for the observed enhancement. These findings confirm the large effect of the canopy structure on the forest backscatter and give rise to two important applications. First, the mapping of open declining mangrove stands appears feasible by using either the backscattering coefficient values, especially at P-HH and P-HV, or the HH-VV phase difference at P-band. Second, the use of the °-biomass statistical relationships must be restricted to homogeneous closed canopies.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: October 20, 2002

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