Johannes Breidenbach

Research Professor

(+47) 974 77 985
johannes.breidenbach@nibio.no

Place
Ås H8

Visiting address
Høgskoleveien 8, 1433 Ås

Abstract

Monitoring changes in forest height, biomass and carbon stock is important for understanding the drivers of forest change, clarifying the geography and magnitude of the fluxes of the global carbon budget and for providing input data to REDD+. The objective of this study was to investigate the feasibility of covering these monitoring needs using InSAR DEM changes over time and associated estimates of forest biomass change and corresponding net CO2 emissions. A wall-to-wall map of net forest change for Uganda with its tropical forests was derived from two Digital Elevation Model (DEM) datasets, namely the SRTM acquired in 2000 and TanDEM-X acquired around 2012 based on Interferometric SAR (InSAR) and based on the height of the phase center. Errors in the form of bias, as well as parallel lines and belts having a certain height shift in the SRTM DEM were removed, and the penetration difference between X- and C-band SAR into the forest canopy was corrected. On average, we estimated X-band InSAR height to decrease by 7 cm during the period 2000–2012, corresponding to an estimated annual CO2 emission of 5 Mt for the entirety of Uganda. The uncertainty of this estimate given as a 95% confidence interval was 2.9–7.1 Mt. The presented method has a number of issues that require further research, including the particular SRTM biases and artifact errors; the penetration difference between the X- and C-band; the final height adjustment; and the validity of a linear conversion from InSAR height change to AGB change. However, the results corresponded well to other datasets on forest change and AGB stocks, concerning both their geographical variation and their aggregated values.

Abstract

Background: Generalized height-diameter curves based on a re-parameterized version of the Korf function for Norway spruce (Picea abies (L.) Karst.), Scots pine (Pinus sylvestris L.) and silver birch (Betula pendula Roth) in Norway are presented. The Norwegian National Forest Inventory (NFI) is used as data base for estimating the model parameters. The derived models are developed to enable spatially explicit and site sensitive tree height imputation in forest inventories as well as future tree height predictions in growth and yield scenario simulations. Methods: Generalized additive mixed models (gamm) are employed to detect and quantify potentially non-linear effects of predictor variables. In doing so the quadratic mean diameter serves as longitudinal covariate since stand age, as measured in the NFI, shows only a weak correlation with a stands developmental status in Norwegian forests. Additionally the models can be locally calibrated by predicting random effects if measured height-diameter pairs are available. Based on the model selection of non-constraint models, shape constraint additive models (scam) were fit to incorporate expert knowledge and intrinsic relationships by enforcing certain effect patterns like monotonicity. Results: Model comparisons demonstrate that the shape constraints lead to only marginal differences in statistical characteristics but ensure reasonable model predictions. Under constant constraints the developed models predict increasing tree heights with decreasing altitude, increasing soil depth and increasing competition pressure of a tree. A two-dimensional spatially structured effect of UTM-coordinates accounts for the potential effects of large scale spatially correlated covariates, which were not at our disposal. The main result of modelling the spatially structured effect is lower tree height prediction for coastal sites and with increasing latitude. The quadratic mean diameter affects both the level and the slope of the height-diameter curve and both effects are positive. Conclusions: In this investigation it is assumed that model effects in additive modelling of height-diameter curves which are unfeasible and too wiggly from an expert point of view are a result of quantitatively or qualitatively limited data bases. However, this problem can be regarded not to be specific to our investigation but more general since growth and yield data that are balanced over the whole data range with respect to all combinations of predictor variables are exceptional cases. Hence, scam may provide methodological improvements in several applications by combining the flexibility of additive models with expert knowledge.

Abstract

In many applications, estimates are required for small sub-populations with so few (or no) sample plots that direct estimators that do not utilize auxiliary variables (e.g. remotely sensed data) are not applicable or result in low precision. This problem is overcome in small area estimation (SAE) by linking the variable of interest to auxiliary variables using a model. Two types of models can be distinguished based on the scale on which they operate: i) Unit-level models are applied in the well-known area-based approach (ABA) and are commonly used in forest inventories supported by fine-resolution 3D remote sensing data such as airborne laser scanning (ALS) or digital aerial photogrammetry (AP); ii) Area-level models, where the response is a direct estimate based on a sample within the domain and the explanatory variables are aggregated auxiliary variables, are less frequently applied. Estimators associated with these two model types can make use of sample plots within domains if available and reduce to so-called synthetic estimators in domains where no sample plots are available. We used both model types and their associated model-based estimators in the same study area with AP data as auxiliary variables. Heteroscedasticity, i.e. for continuous dependent variables typically an increasing dispersion of re- siduals with increasing predictions, is often observed in models linking field- and remotely sensed data. This violates the model assumption that the distribution of the residual errors is constant. Complying with model assumptions is required for model-based methods to result in reliable estimates. Addressing heteroscedasticity in models had considerable impacts on standard errors. When complying with model assumptions, the precision of estimates based on unit-level models was, on average, considerably greater (29%–31% smaller standard errors) than those based on area-level models. Area-level models may nonetheless be attractive because they allow the use of sampling designs that do not easily link to remotely sensed data, such as variable radius plots.

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Abstract

Small-area estimation is a subject area of growing importance in forest inventories. Modelling the link between a study variable Y and auxiliary variables X— in pursuit of an improved accuracy in estimators—is typically done at the level of a sampling unit. However, for various reasons, it may only be possible to formulate a linking model at the level of an area of interest (AOI). Area-level models and their potential have rarely been explored in forestry. This study demonstrates, with data (Y = stem volume per ha) from four actual inventories aided by aerial laser scanner data (3 cases) or photogrammetric point clouds (1 case), application of three distinct models representing the currency of area-level modelling. The studied AOIs varied in size from forest management units to forest districts, and municipalities. The variance explained by X declined sharply with the average size of an AOI. In comparison with a direct estimate mean of Y in an AOI, all three models achieved practically important reduction in the relative root-mean-squared error of an AOI mean. In terms of the reduction in mean-squared errors, a model with a spatial location effect was overall most attractive. We recommend the pursuit of a spatial model component in area-level modelling as promising within the context of a forest inventory.

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Abstract

Many parties to the United Nation's Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) base their reporting of change in Land Use, Land-Use Change and Forestry (LULUCF) sector carbon pools on national forest inventories. A strong feature of sample-based inventories is that very detailed measurements can be made at the level of plots. Uncertainty regarding the results stems primarily from the fact that only a sample, and not the entire population, is measured. However, tree biomass on sample plots is not directly measured but rather estimated using regression models based on allometric features such as tree diameter and height. Estimators of model parameters are random variables that exhibit different values depending on which sample is used for estimating model parameters. Although sampling error is strongly influenced by the sample size when the model is applied, modeling error is strongly influenced by the sample size when the model is under development. Thus, there is a trade-off between which sample sizes to use when applying and developing models. This trade-off has not been studied before and is of specific interest for countries developing new national forest inventories and biomass models in the REDD+ context. This study considers a specific sample design and population. This fact should be considered when extrapolating results to other locations and populations.

Abstract

The use of digital aerial photogrammetry (DAP) for forest inventory purposes has been widely studied and can produce comparable accuracy compared with airborne laser scanning (ALS) in small, homogeneous areas. However, the accuracy of DAP for large scale applications with heterogeneous terrain and forest vegetation has not yet been reported. In this study we examined the accuracy of timber volume, biomass and basal area prediction models based on DAP and national forest inventory (NFI) data on a large area in central Norway. Two separate point clouds were derived from aerial image acquisitions of 2010 and 2013. Vegetation heights were extracted by subtracting terrain elevation derived from ALS. A large number of NFI sample plots (483) measured between 2010 and 2014 were used as reference data to fit linear models for timber volume, biomass and basal area with height metrics derived from the DAP data as explanatory variables. Variables describing the heterogeneous environmental and image acquisition conditions were calculated and their influence on the model accuracy was tested. The results showed that forest parameter prediction using DAP works well when applied to a large area. The model fits of the timber volume, biomass and basal area models were good with R2 of 0.80, 0.81, 0.81 and RMSEs of 41.43 m3 ha−1 (55% of the mean observed value), 32.49 t ha−1 (47%), 5.19 m2 ha−1 (41%), respectively. Only a small proportion of the variation could be attributed to the heterogeneous conditions. The inclusion of the relative sun inclination led to an improvement of the model RMSEs by 2% of the mean observed values. The relatively low cost and stability across large areas make DAP an attractive source of auxiliary information for large scale forest inventories.

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Abstract

This study presents an approach for predicting stand-level forest attributes utilizing mobile laser scanning data collected as a nonprobability sample. Firstly, recordings of stem density were made at point locations every 10th metre along a subjectively chosen mobile laser scanning track in a forest stand. Secondly, kriging was applied to predict stem density values for the centre point of all grid cells ina5m×5m lattice across the stand. Thirdly, due to nondetectability issues, a correction term was computed based on distance sampling theory. Lastly, the mean stem density at stand level was predicted as the mean of the point-level predictions multiplied with the correction factor, and the corresponding variance was estimated. Many factors contribute to the uncertainty of the stand-level prediction; in the variance estimator, we accounted for the uncertainties due to kriging prediction and due to estimating a detectability model from the laser scanning data. The results from our new approach were found to correspond fairly well to estimates obtained using field measurements from an independent set of 54 circular sample plots. The predicted number of stems in the stand based on the proposed methodology was 1366 with a 12.9% relative standard error. The corresponding estimate based on the field plots was 1677 with a 7.5% relative standard error.

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Abstract

Forest stands are important units of management. A stand-by-stand estimation of the mean and variance of an attribute of interest (Y) remains a priority in forest enterprise inventories. The advent of powerful and cost effective remotely sensed auxiliary variables (X) correlated with Y means that a census of X in the forest enterprise is increasingly available. In combination with a probability sample of Y, the census affords a modeldependent stand-level inference. It is important, however, that the sampling design affords an estimation of possible stand-effects in the model linking X to Y.We demonstrate, with simulated data, that failing to quantify non-zero stand-effects in the intercept of a linear population-level model can lead to a serious underestimation of the uncertainty in a model-dependent estimate of a stand mean, and by extension a confidence interval with poor coverage.We also provide an approximation to the variance of stand-effects in an intercept for the case when a sampling design does not afford estimation. Furthermore, we propose a method to correct a potential negative bias in an estimate of the variance of stand-effects when a sampling design prescribes few stands with small within-stand sample sizes.

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Abstract

Estimates of stand averages are needed by forest management for planning purposes. In forest enterprise inventories supported by remotely sensed auxiliary data, these estimates are typically derived exclusively from a model that does not consider stand effects in the study variable. Variance estimators for these means may seriously underestimate uncertainty, and confidence intervals may be too narrow when a model used for computing a stand mean omits a nontrivial stand effect in one or more of the model parameters, a nontrivial spatial distance dependent autocorrelation in the model residuals, or both. In simulated sampling from 36 populations with stands of different sizes and differing with respect to (i) the correlation between a study variable (Y) and two auxiliary variables (X), (ii) the magnitude of stand effects in the intercept of a linear population model linking X to Y, and (iii) a first-order autoregression in Y and X, we learned that none of the tested designs provided reliable estimates of the within-stand autocorrelation among model residuals. More-reliable estimates were possible from stand-wide predictions of Y. The anticipated bias in an estimated autoregression parameter had a modest influence on estimates of variance and coverage of nominal 95% confidence intervals for a synthetic stand mean.

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Abstract

Background: A functional forest carbon measuring, reporting and verification (MRV) system to support climate change mitigation policies, such as REDD+, requires estimates of forest biomass carbon, as an input to estimate emissions. A combination of field inventory and remote sensing is expected to provide those data. By linking Landsat 8 and forest inventory data, we (1) developed linear mixed effects models for total living biomass (TLB) estimation as a function of spectral variables, (2) developed a 30 m resolution map of the total living carbon (TLC), and (3) estimated the total TLB stock of the study area. Inventory data consisted of tree measurements from 500 plots in 63 clusters in a 15,700 km2 study area, in miombo woodlands of Tanzania. The Landsat 8 data comprised two climate data record images covering the inventory area. Results: We found a linear relationship between TLB and Landsat 8 derived spectral variables, and there was no clear evidence of spectral data saturation at higher biomass values. The root-mean-square error of the values predicted by the linear model linking the TLB and the normalized difference vegetation index (NDVI) is equal to 44 t/ha (49 % of the mean value). The estimated TLB for the study area was 140 Mt, with a mean TLB density of 81 t/ha, and a 95 % confidence interval of 74–88 t/ha. We mapped the distribution of TLC of the study area using the TLB model, where TLC was estimated at 47 % of TLB. Conclusion: The low biomass in the miombo woodlands, and the absence of a spectral data saturation problem suggested that Landsat 8 derived NDVI is suitable auxiliary information for carbon monitoring in the context of REDD+, for low-biomass, open-canopy woodlands.

Abstract

Boreal forests contain 30% of the global forest carbon with the majority residing in soils. While challenging to quantify, soil carbon changes comprise a significant, and potentially increasing, part of the terrestrial carbon cycle. Thus, their estimation is important when designing forest-based climate change mitigation strategies and soil carbon change estimates are required for the reporting of greenhouse gas emissions. Organic matter decomposition varies with climate in complex nonlinear ways, rendering data aggregation nontrivial. Here, we explored the effects of temporal and spatial aggregation of climatic and litter input data on regional estimates of soil organic carbon stocks and changes for upland forests. We used the soil carbon and decomposition model Yasso07 with input from the Norwegian National Forest Inventory (11275 plots, 1960–2012). Estimates were produced at three spatial and three temporal scales. Results showed that a national level average soil carbon stock estimate varied by 10% depending on the applied spatial and temporal scale of aggregation. Higher stocks were found when applying plot-level input compared to country-level input and when long-term climate was used as compared to annual or 5-year mean values. A national level estimate for soil carbon change was similar across spatial scales, but was considerably (60–70%) lower when applying annual or 5-year mean climate compared to long-term mean climate reflecting the recent climatic changes in Norway. This was particularly evident for the forest-dominated districts in the southeastern and central parts of Norway and in the far north. We concluded that the sensitivity of model estimates to spatial aggregation will depend on the region of interest. Further, that using long-term climate averages during periods with strong climatic trends results in large differences in soil carbon estimates. The largest differences in this study were observed in central and northern regions with strongly increasing temperatures.

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Abstract

This paper focuses on the use of models for increasing the precision of estimators in large-area forest surveys. It is motivated by the increasing availability of remotely sensed data, which facilitates the development of models predicting the variables of interest in forest surveys. We present, review and compare three different estimation frameworks where models play a core role: model-assisted, model-based, and hybrid estimation. The first two are well known, whereas the third has only recently been introduced in forest surveys. Hybrid inference mixes design-based and model-based inference, since it relies on a probability sample of auxiliary data and a model predicting the target variable from the auxiliary data..We review studies on large-area forest surveys based on model-assisted, model-based, and hybrid estimation, and discuss advantages and disadvantages of the approaches. We conclude that no general recommendations can be made about whether model-assisted, model-based, or hybrid estimation should be preferred. The choice depends on the objective of the survey and the possibilities to acquire appropriate field and remotely sensed data. We also conclude that modelling approaches can only be successfully applied for estimating target variables such as growing stock volume or biomass, which are adequately related to commonly available remotely sensed data, and thus purely field based surveys remain important for several important forest parameters.

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Abstract

National Forest Inventories (NFIs) provide estimates of forest parameters for national and regional scales. Many key variables of interest, such as biomass and timber volume, cannot be measured directly in the field. Instead, models are used to predict those variables from measurements of other field variables. Therefore, the uncertainty or variability of NFI estimates results not only from selecting a sample of the population but also from uncertainties in the models used to predict the variables of interest. The aim of this study was to quantify the model-related variability of Norway spruce (Picea abies [L.] Karst) biomass stock and change estimates for the Norwegian NFI. The model-related variability of the estimates stems from uncertainty in parameter estimates of biomass models as well as residual variability and was quantified using a Monte Carlo simulation technique. Uncertainties in model parameter estimates, which are often not available for published biomass models, had considerable influence on the model-related variability of biomass stock and change estimates. The assumption that the residual variability is larger than documented for the models and the correlation of within-plot model residuals influenced the model-related variability of biomass stock change estimates much more than estimates of the biomass stock. The larger influence on the stock change resulted from the large influence of harvests on the stock change, although harvests were observed rarely on the NFI sample plots in the 5-year period that was considered. In addition, the temporal correlation between model residuals due to changes in the allometry had considerable influence on the model-related variability of the biomass stock change estimate. The allometry may, however, be assumed to be rather stable over a 5-year period. Because the effects of model-related variability of the biomass stock and change estimates were much smaller than those of the sampling-related variability, efforts to increase the precision of estimates should focus on reducing the sampling variability. If the model-related variability is to be decreased, the focus should be on the tree fractions of living branches as well as stump and roots.

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Abstract

Modelling stem taper and volume is crucial in many forest management and planning systems. Taper models are used for diameter prediction at any location along the stem of a sample tree. Furthermore, taper models are flexible means to provide information on the stem volume and assortment structure of a forest stand or other management units. Usually, taper functions are mean functions of multiple linear or nonlinear regression models with diameter at breast height and tree height as predictor variables. In large-scale inventories, an upper diameter is often considered as an additional predictor variable to improve the reliability of taper and volume predictions. Most studies on stem taper focus on accurately modelling the mean function; the error structure of the regression model is neglected or treated as secondary. We present a semi-parametric linear mixed model where the population mean diameter at an arbitrary stem location is a smooth function of relative height. Observed tree-individual diameter deviations from the population mean are assumed to be realizations of a smooth Gaussian process with the covariance depending on the sampled diameter locations. In addition to the smooth random deviation from the population average, we consider independent zero mean residual errors in order to describe the deviations of the observed diameter measurements from the tree-individual smooth stem taper. The smooth model components are approximated by cubic spline functions with a B-spline basis and a small number of knots. The B-spline coefficients of the population mean function are treated as fixed effects, whereas coefficients of the smooth tree-individual deviation are modelled as random effects with zero mean and a symmetric positive definite covariance matrix. The taper of a tree is predicted using an arbitrary number of diameter and corresponding height measurements at arbitrary positions along the stem to calibrate the tree-individual random deviation from the population mean estimated by the fixed effects. This allows a flexible application of the method in practice. Volume predictions are calculated as the integral over cross-sectional areas estimated from the calibrated taper curve. Approximate estimators for the mean squared errors of volume estimates are provided. If the tree height is estimated or measured with error, we use the “law of total expectation and variance” to derive approximate diameter and volume predictions with associated confidence and prediction intervals. All methods presented in this study are implemented in the R-package TapeR.

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Abstract

Bark beetles cause widespread damages in the coniferous-dominated forests of central Europe and North America. In the future, areas affected by bark beetles may further increase due to climate change. However, the early detection of the bark beetle green attack can guide management decisions to prevent larger damages. For this reason, a field-based bark beetle monitoring program is currently implemented in Germany. The combination of remote sensing and field data may help minimizing the reaction time and reducing costs of monitoring programs covering large forested areas. In this case study, RapidEye and TerraSAR-X data were analyzed separately and in combination to detect bark beetle green attack. The remote sensing data were acquired in May 2009 for a study site in south-west Germany. In order to distinguish healthy areas and areas affected by bark beetle green attack, three statistical approaches were compared: generalized linear models (GLM), maximum entropy (ME) and random forest (RF). The spatial scale (minimum mapping unit) was 78.5 m2. TerraSAR-X data resulted in fair classification accuracy with a cross-validated Cohen’s Kappa Coefficient (kappa) of 0.23. RapidEye data resulted in moderate classification accuracy with a kappa of 0.51. The highest classification accuracy was obtained by combining the TerraSAR-X and RapidEye data, resulting in a kappa of 0.74. The accuracy of ME models was considerably higher than the accuracy of GLM and RF models.

Abstract

There is a need for monitoring methods for forest volume, biomass and carbon based on satellite remote sensing. In the present study we tested interferometric X-band SAR (InSAR) from the Tandem-X mission. The aim of the study was to describe how accurate volume and biomass could be estimated from InSAR height and test whether the relationships were curvilinear or not. The study area was a spruce dominated forest in southeast Norway. We selected 28 stands in which we established 192 circular sample plots of 250 m2, accurately positioned by a Differential Global Positioning System (dGPS). Plot level data on stem volume and aboveground biomass were derived from field inventory. Stem volume ranged fromzero to 596 m3/ha, and aboveground biomass up to 338 t/ha.We generated 2 Digital Surface Models (DSMs) fromInSAR processing of two co-registered, HH-polarized TanDEM-X image pairs – one ascending and one descending pair.We used a Digital TerrainModel (DTM) from airborne laser scanning (ALS) as a reference and derived a 10 m × 10 m Canopy Height Model (CHM), or InSAR height model. We assigned each plot to the nearest 10 m × 10 m InSAR height pixel. We applied a nonlinear, mixed model for the volume and biomass modeling, and from a full model we removed effects with a backward stepwise approach. InSAR heightwas proportional to volume and aboveground biomass, where a 1 m increase in InSAR height corresponded to a volume increase of 23 m3/ha and a biomass increase of 14 t/ha. Root Mean Square Error (RMSE) values were 43–44% at the plot level and 19–20% at the stand level.

Abstract

K-nearest neighbor (kNN) approaches are popular statistical methods for predicting forest attributes in airborne laser scanning (ALS) based inventories. Their main upsides are the simplicity to predict multivariate response variables and their freeness of distributional assumptions on the conditional response.One of their largest draw-backs is that predictions outside the range of the reference data inherently result in an under- or overestimation. This property of kNN approaches is known as extrapolation bias and aggravates with an increasing number of neighbors (k) used for the prediction.This study presents one possibility to reduce extrapolation biases of predictions based on the area-based approach (ABA) by using individual tree crown (ITC) approaches within those specific areas of a low density ALS acquisition where the point density might be sufficiently high for using ITC methods.In the proposed strategy, additional (or artificial) reference plots augmented field measured plots. Artificial plots were created by applying ITC segmentation to a canopy height model derived from high density ALS data. The response variable biomass per hectare was predicted for every segment following a semi-ITC approach.The segment predictions were aggregated on the artificial plot level. The artificial plots were then treated in the same way as the original reference data to make predictions in areas with low density ALS data based on the ABA. It was hereby assumed that the predicted plot level response on the artificial plots is equivalent with the observed plot level response on the original reference data.The data consisted of 110 reference plots with a smaller data range than the 201 independent validation plots. Considerable extrapolation bias was visible if only the reference plots were used for the prediction. Almost no extrapolation bias was found if the prediction was based on reference plots augmented by artificial plots. The root mean squared error (RMSE) of the biomass predictions based on the reference plots was 39.1%. The RMSE reduced to 29.8% if the reference plots were augmented by artificial plots.

Abstract

The Norwegian National Forest Inventory (NNFI) provides estimates of forest parameters on national and regional scales by means of a systematic network of permanent sample plots. One of the biggest challenges for the NNFI is the interest in forest attribute information for small sub-populations such as municipalities or protected areas. Frequently, too few sampled observations are available for such small areas to allow estimates with acceptable precision. However, if an auxiliary variable exists that is correlated with the variable of interest, small area estimation (SAE) techniques may provide means to improve the precision of estimates. The study aimed at estimating the mean above-ground forest biomass for small areas with high precision and accuracy, using SAE techniques. For this purpose, the simple random sampling (SRS) estimator, the generalized regression (GREG) estimator, and the unit-level empirical best linear unbiased prediction (EBLUP) estimator were compared. Mean canopy height obtained from a photogrammetric canopy height model (CHM) was the auxiliary variable available for every population element. The small areas were 14 municipalities within a 2,184 km2 study area for which an estimate of the mean forest biomass was sought. The municipalities were between 31 and 527 km2 and contained 1–35 NNFI sample plots located within forest. The mean canopy height obtained from the CHM was found to have a strong linear correlation with forest biomass. Both the SRS estimator and the GREG estimator result in unstable estimates if they are based on too few observations. Although this is not the case for the EBLUP estimator, the estimators were only compared for municipalities with more than five sample plots. The SRS resulted in the highest standard errors in all municipalities. Whereas the GREG and EBLUP standard errors were similar for small areas with many sample plots, the EBLUP standard error was usually smaller than the GREG standard error. The difference between the EBLUP and GREG standard error increased with a decreasing number of sample plots within the small area. The EBLUP estimates of mean forest biomass within the municipalities ranged between 95.01 and 153.76 Mg ha−1, with standard errors between 8.20 and 12.84 Mg ha−1.

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Abstract

Climate change is a factor that largely contributes to the increase of forest areas affected by natural damages. Therefore, the development of methodologies for forest monitoring and rapid assessment of affected areas is required. Space-borne synthetic aperture radar (SAR) imagery with high resolution is now available for large-scale forest mapping and forest monitoring applications. However, a correct interpretation of SAR images requires an adequate preprocessing of the data consisting of orthorectification and radiometric calibration. The resolution and quality of the digital elevation model (DEM) used as reference is crucial for this purpose. Therefore, the primary aim of this study was to analyze the influence of the DEM quality used in the preprocessing of the SAR data on the mapping accuracy of forest types. In order to examine TerraSAR-X images to map forest dominated by deciduous and coniferous trees, High Resolution SpotLight images were acquired for two study sites in southern Germany. The SAR images were preprocessed with a Shuttle Radar Topography Mission (SRTM) DEM (resolution approximately 90 m), an airborne laser scanning (ALS) digital terrain model (DTM) (5 m resolution), and an ALS digital surface model (DSM) (5 m resolution). The orthorectification of the SAR images using high resolution ALS DEMs was found to be important for the reduction of errors in pixel location and to increase the classification accuracy of forest types. SAR images preprocessed with ALS DTMs resulted in the highest classification accuracies, with kappa coefficients of 0.49 and 0.41, respectively. SAR images preprocessed with ALS DTMs resulted in greater accuracy than those preprocessed with ALS DSMs in most cases. The classification accuracy of forest types using SAR images preprocessed with the SRTM DEM was fair, with kappa coefficients of 0.23 and 0.32, respectively.Analysis of the radar backscatter indicated that sample plots dominated by coniferous trees tended to have lower scattering coefficients than plots dominated by deciduous trees. Leaf-off images were only slightly better suited for the classification than leaf-on images. The combination of leaf-off and leaf-on improved the classification accuracy considerably since the backscatter changed between seasons, especially in deciduous-dominated forest.

Abstract

Climate change is a factor that largely contributes to the increase of forest areas affected by natural damages. Therefore, the development of methodologies for forest monitoring and rapid assessment of affected areas is required. Space-borne synthetic aperture radar (SAR) imagery with high resolution is now available for large-scale forest mapping and forest monitoring applications. However, a correct interpretation of SAR images requires an adequate preprocessing of the data consisting of orthorectification and radiometric calibration. The resolution and quality of the digital elevation model (DEM) used as reference is crucial for this purpose. Therefore, the primary aim of this study was to analyze the influence of the DEM quality used in the preprocessing of the SAR data on the mapping accuracy of forest types. In order to examine TerraSAR-X images to map forest dominated by deciduous and coniferous trees, High Resolution SpotLight images were acquired for two study sites in southern Germany. The SAR images were preprocessed with a Shuttle Radar Topography Mission (SRTM) DEM (resolution approximately 90 m), an airborne laser scanning (ALS) digital terrain model (DTM) (5 m resolution), and an ALS digital surface model (DSM) (5 m resolution). The orthorectification of the SAR images using high resolution ALS DEMs was found to be important for the reduction of errors in pixel location and to increase the classification accuracy of forest types. SAR images preprocessed with ALS DTMs resulted in the highest classification accuracies, with kappa coefficients of 0.49 and 0.41, respectively. SAR images preprocessed with ALS DTMs resulted in greater accuracy than those preprocessed with ALS DSMs in most cases. The classification accuracy of forest types using SAR images preprocessed with the SRTM DEM was fair, with kappa coefficients of 0.23 and 0.32, respectively. Analysis of the radar backscatter indicated that sample plots dominated by coniferous trees tended to have lower scattering coefficients than plots dominated by deciduous trees. Leaf-off images were only slightly better suited for the classification than leaf-on images. The combination of leaf-off and leaf-on improved the classification accuracy considerably since the backscatter changed between seasons, especially in deciduous-dominated forest.

Abstract

Digital aerial images over Vestfold county were acquired by TerraTec in summer 2007 with a Vexcel UltraCamX sensor. The flying height above-ground was approximately 2800-3000 m which resulted in images of approximately 1880x2880 m size. The images were acquired in north-south oriented flight strips with a 20% side and 60% within-strip overlap. Panchromatic image data were acquired in 20 cm ground sampling distance (GSD). Near infrared, red, green and blue image bands were acquired in 60 cm GSD but were pansharpened to a 20 cm pixel size by the data vendor. The original radiometric resolution of the images (12 bit) was resampled to 8 bit for archival storage. The plane location and orientation during image acquisition were logged using a GPS and an inertial navigation system (INS). To increase the accuracy of the external orientation, an aerial triangulation was performed based on 34 ground control points using the software Match-AT.

Abstract

Vegetation height information is one of the most important variables for predicting forest attributes such as timber volume and biomass. Although airborne laser scanning (ALS) data are operationally used in forest planning inventories in Norway, a regularly repeated acquisition of ALS data for large regions has yet to be realized. Therefore, several research groups analyze the use of other data sources to retrieve vegetation height information. One very promising approach is the photogrammetric derivation of vegetation heights from overlapping digital aerial images. Aerial images are acquired over almost all European countries on a regular basis making image data readily available. The Norwegian Forest and Landscape Institute (Skog og Landskap) invited researchers and practitioners that produce and utilize photogrammetric data to share their experiences. More than 30 participants followed the invitation and contributed to a successful event with interesting presentations and discussions. We wish to thank the speakers for their contributions and hope that all participants found the seminar useful. These short proceedings of the seminar include summaries of the talks. The presentations, which provide more information, can be found at the end of this document.

Abstract

Top dieback and mortality of Norway spruce is a particular forest damage that has severe occurrences in scattered forest stands in southeast Norway. As a part of a project to study the extent and causes of the damage we are working on an algorithm for automatic detection dead and declining spruce trees for an entire county, - Vestfold. The data set is aerial imagery. The county was covered in 2007. Preliminary tests showed a considerable confusion between dead trees and bare ground. In order to avoid this confusion we have had the imagery automatically processed into a photogrammetric digital surface model (DSM) and true orthophotos. The data set derived from this processing was a 5 layer file, containing blue, green, red, and near-infrared, as well as the height above ground of the canopy height model (a DSM normalized by the terrain height, nDSM)

Abstract

The aim in the analysis of sample surveys is frequently to derive estimates of sub-population characteristics. This task is denoted small area estimation (SAE). Often, the sample available for the sub-population is, however, too small to allow a reliable estimate. Frequently, auxiliary variables exist that are correlated with the variable of interest. Several estimators can make use of auxiliary information which may reduce the variance of the estimate.

Abstract

The Norwegian National Forest Inventory (NNFI) provides estimates of forest parameters on national and regional scales by means of a systematic network of permanent sample plots. One of the biggest challenges for the NNFI is the interest in forest attribute information for small subpopulations such as municipalities or protected areas. Frequently, too few sampled observations are available for those small areas to allow an estimate with acceptable precision. However, if an auxiliary variable exists that is correlated with the variable of interest, small area estimation (SAE) techniques may provide means to improve the precision of estimates.

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Abstract

While forest inventories based on airborne laser scanning data (ALS) using the area based approach (ABA) have reached operational status, methods using the individual tree crown approach (ITC) have basically remained a research issue. One of the main obstacles for operational applications of ITC is biased results often experienced due to segmentation errors. In this article, we propose a new method, called "semi-ITC" that overcomes the main problems related to ITC by imputing ground truth data within crown segments from the nearest neighboring segment. This may be none, one, or several trees. The distances between segments were derived based on a set of explanatory variables using two nonparametric methods, i.e., most similar neighbor inference (MSN) and random forest (RF). RF favored the imputation of common observations in the data set which resulted in significant biases. Main conclusions are therefore based on MSN. The explanatory variables were calculated by means of small footprint ALS and multispectral data. When testing with empirical data the new method compared favorably to the well-known ABA. Another advantage of the new method over the ABA is that it allowed for the modeling of rare tree species. The results of predicting timber volume with the semi-ITC method were unbiased and the root mean squared error (RMSE) on plot level was smaller than the standard deviation of the observed response variables. The relative RMSEs after cross validation using semi-ITC for total volume and volume of the individual species pine, spruce, birch, and aspen on plot level were 17, 38, 40, 101, and 222%, respectively. Due to the unbiasedness of the estimation, this study is a showcase for how to use crown segments resulting from ITC algorithms in a forest inventory context. (C) 2009 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Abstract

The semi-individual tree crown approach (semi-ITC) was used to predict crown base heights (CBH) on the level of single crown segments based on airborne laser scanning (ALS) derived metrics. The root-mean-squared-differences (RMSD) on the segment level were smallest for spruce. However, they were larger than the standard deviation of the measured CBH for pine and birch. The RMSD values were also larger compared to other studies. This can in part be explained by the fact that the semi-ITC approach incorporates errors of the segmentation algorithm. As a consequence, all instead of only correctly identified trees were considered in modeling which results in more realistic RMSD values. After aggregating the individual segment predictions to the plot level, the RMSD values were smaller than the standard deviations of the field measurements and comparable to other studies. The relative RMSD values for birch, spruce, pine and all species were 51.61, 35.22, 49.28, and 13.89%, respectively.

Abstract

The semi-individual tree crown approach (semi-ITC) was used to predict crown base heights (CBH) on the level of single crown segments based on airborne laser scanning (ALS) derived metrics. The root-mean-squared-differences (RMSD) on the segment level were smallest for spruce. However, they were larger than the standard deviation of the measured CBH for pine and birch. The RMSD values were also larger compared to other studies. This can in part be explained by the fact that the semi-ITC approach incorporates errors of the segmentation algorithm. As a consequence, all instead of only correctly identified trees were considered in modeling which results in more realistic RMSD values. After aggregating the individual segment predictions to the plot level, the RMSD values were smaller than the standard deviations of the field measurements and comparable to other studies. The relative RMSD values for birch, spruce, pine and all species were 51.61, 35.22, 49.28, and 13.89%, respectively.