The International Archives of the Photogrammetry, Remote Sensing and Spatial Information Sciences
Publications Copernicus
Articles | Volume XLI-B8
23 Jun 2016
 | 23 Jun 2016


Simon Jones, Mariela Soto-Berelov, Lola Suarez, Phil Wilkes, Will Woodgate, and Andrew Haywood

Keywords: remote sensing, data primitive, woody attribution, LiDAR, in situ observation, feature extraction

Abstract. This paper presents a methodology for the attribution and characterisation of Sclerophyll forested landscapes over large areas. First we define a set of woody vegetation data primitives (e.g. canopy cover, leaf area index (LAI), bole density, canopy height), which are then scaled-up using multiple remote sensing data sources to characterise and extract landscape woody vegetation features. The advantage of this approach is that vegetation landscape features can be described from composites of these data primitives. The proposed data primitives act as building blocks for the re-creation of past woody characterisation schemes as well as allowing for re-compilation to support present and future policy and management and decision making needs.

Three main research sites were attributed; representative of different sclerophyll woody vegetated systems (Box Iron-bark forest; Mountain Ash forest; Mixed Species foothills forest). High resolution hyperspectral and full waveform LiDAR data was acquired over the three research sites. At the same time, land management agencies (Victorian Department of Environment, Land Water and Planning) and researchers (RMIT, CRC for Spatial Information and CSIRO) conducted fieldwork to collect structural and functional measurements of vegetation, using traditional forest mensuration transects and plots, terrestrial lidar scanning and high temporal resolution in-situ autonomous laser (VegNet) scanners.

Results are presented of: 1) inter-comparisons of LAI estimations made using ground based hemispherical photography, LAI 2200 PCA, CI-110 and terrestrial and airborne laser scanners; 2) canopy height and vertical canopy complexity derived from airborne LiDAR validated using ground observations; and, 3) time-series characterisation of land cover features.

1. Accuracy targets for remotely sensed LAI products to match within ground based estimates are ± 0.5 LAI or a 20% maximum (CEOS/GCOS) with new aspirational targets of 5%). In this research we conducted a total of 67 ground-based method-to-method pairwise comparisons across 11 plots in five sites, incorporating the previously mentioned LAI methods. Out of the 67 comparisons, 29 had an RMSE ≥ 0.5 LAIe. This has important implications for the validation of remotely sensed products since ground based techniques themselves exhibit LAI variations greater than internationally recommended guidelines for satellite product accuracies.

2. Two methods of canopy height derivation are proposed and tested over a large area (4 Million Ha). 99th percentile maximum height achieved a RMSE of 6.6%, whilst 95th percentile dominant height a RMSE = 10.3%. Vertical canopy complexity (i.e. the number of forest layers of strata) was calculated as the local maxima of vegetation density within the LiDAR canopy profile and determined using a cubic spline smoothing of Pgap. This was then validated against in-situ and LiDAR observations of canopy strata with an RMSE 0.39 canopy layers.

3. Preliminary results are presented of landcover characterisation using LandTrendr analysis of Landsat LEDAPS data. kNN is then used to link these features to a dense network of 800 field plots sites.