Mapping Forest Leaf Area Index using Reflectance and Textural Information derived from WorldView-2 Imagery in a Mixed Natural Forest Area in Florida, US

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Leaf area index (LAI), Vegetation index, Texture measure, WorldView-2, Landsat TM, Canonical correlation analysis

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The leaf area index (LAI) of plant canopies is an important structural parameter that controls energy, water, and gas exchanges of plant ecosystems. Remote sensing techniques may offer an alternative for measuring and mapping forest LAI at a landscape scale. Given the characteristics of high spatial/spectral resolution of the WorldView-2 (WV2) sensor, it is of significance that the textural information extracted from WV2 multispectral (MS) bands will be first time used in estimating and mapping forest LAI. In this study, LAI mapping accuracies would be compared from (a) spatial resolutions between 2-m WV2 MS data and 30-m Landsat TM imagery, (b) the nature of variables between spectrum-based features and texture-based features, and (c) sensors between TM and WV2. Therefore spectral/textural features (SFs) were first selected and tested; then a canonical correlation analysis was performed with different data sets of SFs and LAI measurement; and finally linear regression models were used to predict and map forest LAI with canonical variables calculated from image data. The experimental results demonstrate that for estimating and mapping forest LAI, (i) using high resolution data (WV2) is better than using relatively low resolution data (TM); (ii) extracted from the same WV2 data, texture-based features have higher capability than that of spectrum-based features; (iii) a combination of spectrum-based features with texture-based features could lead to even higher accuracy of mapping forest LAI than their either one separately; and (iv) WV2 sensor outperforms TM sensor significantly. However, we need to address the possible overfitting phenomenon that might be brought in by using more input variables to develop models. In addition, the experimental results also indicate that the red-edge band in WV2 was the worst on estimating LAI among WV2 MS bands and the WV2 MS bands in the visible range had a much higher correlation with ground measured LAI than that red-edge and NIR bands did.

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International Journal of Applied Earth Observation and Geoinformation, v. 42, p. 11-23