The International Archives of the Photogrammetry, Remote Sensing and Spatial Information Sciences
Publications Copernicus
Articles | Volume XL-8
28 Nov 2014
 | 28 Nov 2014

Forest above ground biomass estimation and forest/non-forest classification for Odisha, India, using L-band Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) data

M. Suresh, T. R. Kiran Chand, R. Fararoda, C. S. Jha, and V. K. Dadhwal

Keywords: Above ground biomass, SAR, backscatter coefficient, Texture, Support Vector Machine Classification

Abstract. Tropical forests contribute to approximately 40 % of the total carbon found in terrestrial biomass. In this context, forest/non-forest classification and estimation of forest above ground biomass over tropical regions are very important and relevant in understanding the contribution of tropical forests in global biogeochemical cycles, especially in terms of carbon pools and fluxes. Information on the spatio-temporal biomass distribution acts as a key input to Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation Plus (REDD+) action plans. This necessitates precise and reliable methods to estimate forest biomass and to reduce uncertainties in existing biomass quantification scenarios.

The use of backscatter information from a host of allweather capable Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) systems during the recent past has demonstrated the potential of SAR data in forest above ground biomass estimation and forest / nonforest classification.

In the present study, Advanced Land Observing Satellite (ALOS) / Phased Array L-band Synthetic Aperture Radar (PALSAR) data along with field inventory data have been used in forest above ground biomass estimation and forest / non-forest classification over Odisha state, India. The ALOSPALSAR 50 m spatial resolution orthorectified and radiometrically corrected HH/HV dual polarization data (digital numbers) for the year 2010 were converted to backscattering coefficient images (Schimada et al., 2009).

The tree level measurements collected during field inventory (2009–'10) on Girth at Breast Height (GBH at 1.3 m above ground) and height of all individual trees at plot (plot size 0.1 ha) level were converted to biomass density using species specific allometric equations and wood densities. The field inventory based biomass estimations were empirically integrated with ALOS-PALSAR backscatter coefficients to derive spatial forest above ground biomass estimates for the study area.

Further, The Support Vector Machines (SVM) based Radial Basis Function classification technique was employed to carry out binary (forest-non forest) classification using ALOSPALSAR HH and HV backscatter coefficient images and field inventory data. The textural Haralick’s Grey Level Cooccurrence Matrix (GLCM) texture measures are determined on HV backscatter image for Odisha, for the year 2010. PALSAR HH, HV backscatter coefficient images, their difference (HHHV) and HV backscatter coefficient based eight textural parameters (Mean, Variance, Dissimilarity, Contrast, Angular second moment, Homogeneity, Correlation and Contrast) are used as input parameters for Support Vector Machines (SVM) tool. Ground based inputs for forest / non-forest were taken from field inventory data and high resolution Google maps.

Results suggested significant relationship between HV backscatter coefficient and field based biomass (R2 = 0.508, p = 0.55) compared to HH with biomass values ranging from 5 to 365 t/ha. The spatial variability of biomass with reference to different forest types is in good agreement. The forest / nonforest classified map suggested a total forest cover of 50214 km2 with an overall accuracy of 92.54 %. The forest / non-forest information derived from the present study showed a good spatial agreement with the standard forest cover map of Forest Survey of India (FSI) and corresponding published area of 50575 km2. Results are discussed in the paper.