Large area mapping of southwestern forest crown cover, canopy height, and biomass using the NASA Multiangle Imaging Spectro-Radiometer

Mark Chopping, Gretchen G. Moisen, Lihong Su, Andrea Laliberte, Albert Rango, John V. Martonchik, Debra P.C. Peters

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92 Scopus citations


A rapid canopy reflectance model inversion experiment was performed using multi-angle reflectance data from the NASA Multi-angle Imaging Spectro-Radiometer (MISR) on the Earth Observing System Terra satellite, with the goal of obtaining measures of forest fractional crown cover, mean canopy height, and aboveground woody biomass for large parts of south-eastern Arizona and southern New Mexico (> 200,000 km2). MISR red band bidirectional reflectance estimates in nine views mapped to a 250 m grid were used to adjust the Simple Geometric-optical Model (SGM). The soil-understory background signal was partly decoupled a priori by developing regression relationships with the nadir camera blue, green, and near-infrared reflectance data and the isotropic, geometric, and volume scattering kernel weights of the LiSparse-RossThin kernel-driven bidirectional reflectance distribution function (BRDF) model adjusted against MISR red band data. The SGM's mean crown radius and crown shape parameters were adjusted using the Praxis optimization algorithm, allowing retrieval of fractional crown cover and mean canopy height, and estimation of aboveground woody biomass by linear rescaling of the dot product of cover and height. Retrieved distributions of crown cover, mean canopy height, and aboveground woody biomass for forested areas showed good matches with maps from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Forest Service, with R2 values of 0.78, 0.69, and 0.81, and absolute mean errors of 0.10, 2.2 m, and 4.5 tons acre- 1 (10.1 Mg ha- 1), respectively, after filtering for high root mean square error (RMSE) on model fitting, the effects of topographic shading, and the removal of a small number of outliers. This is the first use of data from the MISR instrument to produce maps of crown cover, canopy height, and woody biomass over a large area by seeking to exploit the structural effects of canopies reflected in the observed anisotropy patterns in these explicitly multiangle data.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2051-2063
Number of pages13
JournalRemote Sensing of Environment
Issue number5
StatePublished - 15 May 2008



  • BRDF
  • Biomass
  • Canopy
  • Carbon
  • Forest
  • Geometric-optical
  • Multiangle
  • Structure
  • model

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