Soil moisture limitations on monitoring boreal forest regrowth using spaceborne L-band SAR data

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A study was carried out to investigate the utility of L-band SAR data for estimating aboveground biomass in sites with low levels of vegetation regrowth. Data to estimate biomass were collected from 59 sites located in fire-disturbed black spruce forests in interior Alaska. PALSAR L-band data (HH and HV polarizations) collected on two dates in the summer/fall of 2007 and one date in the summer of 2009 were used. Significant linear correlations were found between the log of aboveground biomass (range of 0.02 to 22.2tha-1) and σ° (L-HH) and σ° (L-HV) for the data collected on each of the three dates, with the highest correlation found using the L-HV data collected when soil moisture was highest. Soil moisture, however, did change the correlations between L-band σ° and aboveground biomass, and the analyses suggest that the influence of soil moisture is biomass dependent. The results indicate that to use L-band SAR data for mapping aboveground biomass and monitoring forest regrowth will require development of approaches to account for the influence that variations in soil moisture have on L-band microwave backscatter, which can be particularly strong when low levels of aboveground biomass occur. © 2010 Elsevier Inc.

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Remote Sensing of Environment