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Investigating the possibility of forest height/volume estimation using lidar, radar and optical images : case study : Nowshahr Forests in Mazindaran, Iran

Abstract : The importance of measuring forest biophysical parameters for ecosystem health monitoring and forest management encourages researchers to find precise, yet low-cost methods especially in mountainous and large areas. In the present study Geoscience Laser Altimeter System (GLAS) on board ICESat (Ice Cloud and land Elevation Satellite) was used to estimate three biophysical characteristics of forests located in the north of Iran: 1) maximum canopy height (Hmax), 2) Lorey’s height (HLorey), and 3) Forest volume (V). A large number of Multiple Linear Regressions (MLR), Random Forest (RF) and also Artificial Neural Network regressions were developed using two different sets of variables including waveform metrics and Principal Components (PCs) produced from Principal Component Analysis (PCA). To validate and compare models, statistical criteria were calculated based on a five-fold cross validation. Best model concerning the maximum height was an MLR (RMSE=5.0m) which combined two metrics extracted from waveforms (waveform extent "Wext" and height at 50% of waveform energy "H50"), and one from Digital Elevation Model (Terrain Index: TI). The mean absolute percentage error (MAPE) of maximum height estimates was 16.4%. For Lorey’s height, an ANN model using PCs and waveform extent “Wext” outperformed other models (RMSE=3.4m, MAPE=12.3%). In order to estimate forest volume, two approaches was employed: First, estimating volume using volume-height relationship while height is GLAS estimated height; Second, estimation of forest volume directly from GLAS data by developing regressions between in situ volume and GLAS metrics. The result from first approach (116.3m3/ha) was slightly better than the result obtained by the second approach that is a PCs-based ANN model (119.9 m3/ha). But the ANN model performed better in very low (<10 m3/ha) and very high (> 800 m3/ha) volume stands. In total, the relative error of estimated forest volume was about 26%. Generally, MLR and ANN models had better performance when compared to the RF models. In addition, the accuracy of height estimations using waveform metrics was better than those based on PCs.Given the suitable results of GLAS height models (maximum and Lorey’s heights), production of wall to wall height maps from synergy of remote sensing (GLAS, PALSAR, SPOT5 and Landsat-TM) and environmental data (slope, aspect, classified elevation map and also geological map) was taken under consideration. Thus, MLR and RF regressions were built between all GLAS derived heights, inside of the study area, and indices extracted from mentioned remotely sensed and environmental data. The best resulted models for Hmax (RMSE=7.4m and R_a^2=0.52) and HLorey (RMSE=5.5m and R_a^2=0.59) were used to produce a wall to wall maximum canopy height and Lorey’ height maps. Comparison of Hmax extracted from the resulted Hmax map with true height values at the location of 32 in situ plots produced an RMSE and R2 of 5.3m and 0.71, respectively. Such a comparison for HLorey led to an RMSE and R2 of 4.3m and 0.50, respectively. Regression-kriging method was also used to produce canopy height map with considering spatial correlation between canopy heights. This approach, with the aim of improving the precision of canopy height map provided from non-spatial method, was unsuccessful which could be due to the heterogeneity of the study area in case of forest structure and topography.
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Manizheh Rajab Pourrahmati. Investigating the possibility of forest height/volume estimation using lidar, radar and optical images : case study : Nowshahr Forests in Mazindaran, Iran. Electronics. Université Montpellier; University of Teheran, 2016. English. ⟨NNT : 2016MONTT288⟩. ⟨tel-01807960⟩

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