Interoperability of multi-frequency SAR data for forest information extraction in support of national MRV systems

Abstract

Continuity of earth observation data is paramount to operational forest information monitoring in support of national accountability of forest and carbon stocks. Following the loss of ALOS PALSAR in May 2011, the minimum 2 year gap before PALSAR-2 comes online, and the superiority of L-band data for forest monitoring, this paper addresses the issue of interoperability of SAR data through comparison of forest/non-forest, land cover and deforestation derived from independent and combined classifications of PALSAR and RADARSAT-2 data. Forest/non-forest mapping accuracies were highest using PALSAR data alone. The combined use of C- and L-band data resulted in higher forest/non-forest mapping accuracies compared to using C-band data alone. Attributed largely to an increased capacity for penetration of the vegetation canopy and interaction with woody structures, L-band SAR is most suited to forest cover mapping. Without a dense time-series, the separation of cleared or deforested land and regrowth areas is more difficult using C-band alone.

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