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Automated estimation of forest height and underlying topography over a Brazilian tropical forest with single-baseline single-polarization TanDEM-X SAR interferometry

Lei, Yang and Treuhaft, Robert and Gonçalves, Fabio (2021) Automated estimation of forest height and underlying topography over a Brazilian tropical forest with single-baseline single-polarization TanDEM-X SAR interferometry. Remote Sensing of Environment, 252 . Art. No. 112132. ISSN 0034-4257. doi:10.1016/j.rse.2020.112132.

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Forest height is an important variable for modeling terrestrial carbon storage and global carbon cycle dynamics. Spaceborne SAR Interferometry (InSAR) has the sensitivity to measure canopy height and the underlying topography. In this paper, we refine and automate an interferometric ground finding approach that exploits few-look (2- to 4-look) averaged interferograms and incorporates the use of a coherent electromagnetic simulator and field inventory data. Using the coherent electromagnetic simulator, an InSAR simulation based on field data is performed to study the true ground position as a function of the statistics of few-look InSAR phase heights from a model perspective. With this statistical model, both the underlying topography and the canopy height (mean and top canopy height) can be estimated. Using German Aerospace Center's (DLR) single-baseline single-polarization TanDEM-X InSAR data, we validate the approach over a Brazilian tropical forest (Tapajós National Forest) with both field inventory and lidar data. As validated against lidar data, the underlying topography is estimated to an accuracy of 3 m. At one hectare aggregated pixel size, InSAR phase-center height is best compared with the field/lidar mean canopy height with an accuracy of 2–3 m, while InSAR-inverted total height best characterizes the lidar top canopy height with an accuracy of 4–5 m. Given the global data availability of TanDEM-X and the future TanDEM-L, this approach has the potential for wall-to-wall mapping of forest height as well as underlying topography and also serves as a complementary tool to other existing InSAR, Polarimetric InSAR (PolInSAR) and SAR tomography (TomoSAR) methods when only single polarization and/or baseline data are available.

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Lei, Yang0000-0002-8377-1980
Additional Information:© 2020 Elsevier Inc. Received 29 March 2020, Revised 20 September 2020, Accepted 10 October 2020, Available online 20 October 2020. The research described in this paper was carried out in part at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology, under a contract with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. It was supported in part by Carbon-Monitoring-System task order 80NM0018F0583 from the NASA Terrestrial Ecology Program, and in part by an appointment to NASA Postdoctoral Program (NPP) at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), California Institute of Technology, which is administered by the Universities Space Research Association (USRA) under a contract with NASA. The authors would also acknowledge DLR for acquiring the wealth of TanDEM-X data over the years at the Tapajós test site. Airborne lidar data were acquired with support from the United States Agency for International Development and the U.S. Department of State with the technical assistance of the Brazilian Corporation for Agricultural Research (EMBRAPA) and the U.S. Forest Service Office of International Programs. The authors would like to thank Brazil's Conselho Nacional de Desenvolvimento Científico e Tecnológico (CNPq/MCTI) and Instituto Chico Mendes de Conservação da Biodiversidade (ICMBio/MMA) for research authorizations, and the Santarém office of the Large Scale Biosphere-Atmosphere Experiment in Amazonia (LBA) for providing logistical support. They would also like to thank E. Oliveira (UFAC), the IFT crew (R. Brito, A. Viana, M. Vitorino, and A. Jesus), and the local assistants J. Oliveira, R. Santos, I. Silva, and E. Pedroso for the invaluable help with the field acquisitions. The authors declare that they have no known competing financial interests or personal relationships that could have appeared to influence the work reported in this paper.
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NASA Postdoctoral ProgramUNSPECIFIED
Subject Keywords:Spaceborne InSAR; Tropical forest height; Underlying topography; Digital Elevation Model (DEM); Digital Terrain Model (DTM); TanDEM-X; SRTM; Tapajós National Forest
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20201021-081939462
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Official Citation:Yang Lei, Robert Treuhaft, Fabio Gonçalves, Automated estimation of forest height and underlying topography over a Brazilian tropical forest with single-baseline single-polarization TanDEM-X SAR interferometry, Remote Sensing of Environment, Volume 252, 2021, 112132, ISSN 0034-4257,
Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:106180
Deposited By: Tony Diaz
Deposited On:21 Oct 2020 16:34
Last Modified:16 Nov 2021 18:51

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