UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Integrating discrete-return scanning LiDAR and spaceborne RADAR to support aboveground biomass assessments Tsui, Olivier W. L.


Forests are considered important reservoirs of organic carbon and have been identified as essential in moderating climate change. Measuring the amount of carbon stored in forests helps improve our understanding of the carbon budget and help with climate change adaptation strategies. Therefore, effective and accurate methods in characterizing changing forest cover and biomass densities are needed. Both LiDAR (light detection and ranging) and radar (radio detection and ranging) technologies can contribute towards the study of forest biomass but one sensor alone cannot provide all the information necessary to monitor forests. Understanding and investigating synergies between different remotely sensed data sets provides new and innovative opportunities to monitor forests. The overall objective reported in this thesis is to demonstrate novel methods to integrate two remotely sensed data sets (i.e., radar and LiDAR) for the application of biomass estimation. This research was divided into two main questions: (1) can shorter wavelength radar variables provide improved biomass estimates when combined with LiDAR data; and (2) can the use of space-borne radar extend aboveground biomass estimates over a larger area using spatial modeling methods. In the first study, relationships between biomass and biomass components with LiDAR and radar data were examined through regression analyses to determine the best combined parameters to estimate biomass. Results indicated that integrating radar variables to a LiDAR-derived model of aboveground biomass helped explain an additional 17.9% of the variability in crown biomass. This corresponded in an improvement in crown biomass estimates of 10% RMSE. Furthermore, InSAR coherence magnitudes from C-band and L-band radars provided the best estimate of aboveground biomass using radar alone. In the second study, aboveground biomass transects derived from plot-based field data and LiDAR, and wall-to-wall radar were spatially integrated using three kriging techniques. The results indicated the importance of correlation between primary and secondary variables when using these kriging approaches. Also a 1000 m distance between biomass transects, was found to provide reasonable compromise between ease of use, accuracy, and cost of obtaining LiDAR data for the study area. Insights into other opportunities for further development in spatial modeling techniques are discussed.

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