Continental Scale Vegetation Structure Mapping Using Field Calibrated Landsat, ALOS Palsar And GLAS ICESat
Abstract:Vertical plant profiles are important descriptors of canopy structure and are used to inform models of biomass, biodiversity and fire risk. In Australia, an approach has been developed to produce large area maps of vertical plant profiles by extrapolating waveform lidar estimates of vertical plant profiles from ICESat/GLAS using large area segmentation of ALOS PALSAR and Landsat satellite image products. The main assumption of this approach is that the vegetation height profiles are consistent across the segments defined from ALOS PALSAR and Landsat image products.
More than 1500 field sites were used to develop an index of fractional cover using Landsat data. A time series of the green fraction was used to calculate the persistent green fraction continuously across the landscape. This was fused with ALOS PALSAR L-band Fine Beam Dual polarisation 25m data and used to segment the Australian landscapes. K-means clustering then grouped the segments with similar cover and backscatter into approximately 1000 clusters. Where GLAS-ICESat footprints intersected these clusters, canopy profiles were extracted and aggregated to produce a mean vertical vegetation profile for each cluster that was used to derive mean canopy and understorey height, depth and density. Due to the large number of returns, these retrievals are near continuous across the landscape, enabling them to be used for inventory and modelling applications.
To validate this product, a radiative transfer model was adapted to map directional gap probability from airborne waveform lidar datasets to retrieve vertical plant profiles Comparison over several test sites show excellent agreement and work is underway to extend the analysis to improve national biomass mapping. The integration of the three datasets provide options for future operational monitoring of structure and AGB across large areas for quantifying carbon dynamics, structural change and biodiversity.