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Research article2024Peer reviewedOpen access

Polarimetric Measures in Biomass Change Prediction Using ALOS-2 PALSAR-2 Data

Persson, Henrik J.; Huuva, Ivan


The use of multiple synthetic aperture radar polarizations can improve biomass estimations compared to using a single polarization. In this study, we compared predictions of aboveground biomass change from ALOS-2 PALSAR-2 backscatter using linear regression based on (1) the cross-polarization channels, (2) the co- and cross-polarizations from fully polarimetric SAR, (3) Freeman-Durden polarimetric decomposition, and (4) the polarimetric radar vegetation index (RVI). Additionally, the impact of forest structure on the sensitivity of the polarimetric backscatter to AGB and AGB change was assessed. The biomass consisted of mainly coniferous trees at the hemi-boreal test site Remningstorp, located in southern Sweden. We found some improvements in the predictions when quad-polarized data (RMSE = 79.4 tons/ha) were used instead of solely cross-polarized data (RMSE = 84.9 tons/ha). However, when using Freeman-Durden decomposition, the prediction accuracy improved further (RMSE = 69.7 tons/ha), and the highest accuracy was obtained with the radar vegetation index (RMSE = 50.4 tons/ha). The corresponding R2 values ranged from 0.45 to 0.82. The bias was less than 1 t/ha for all models. An analysis of forest variables showed that the sensitivity to AGB was reduced for high values of basal-area-weighted mean height, basal area, and stem density when predicting absolute AGB, but the best change prediction model was sensitive to changes larger than the apparent saturation point for AGB state estimates. We conclude that by using fully polarimetric SAR images, forest biomass changes can be estimated more accurately compared to using single- or dual-polarization images. The results were improved the most (in terms of RMSE and R2) by using the Freeman-Durden decomposition model or the RVI, which captured especially the large changes better.


biomass change; SAR; backscatter; polarimetry; forestry

Published in

Remote Sensing
2024, Volume: 16, number: 6, article number: 953
Publisher: MDPI