Understanding the potential of forest ecosystems as global carbon sinks requires a thorough knowledge of forest carbon dynamics, including both sequestration and fluxes among multiple pools. The accurate quantification of biomass is important to better understand forest productivity and carbon cycling dynamics. Stand-based inventories (SBIs) are widely used for quantifying forest characteristics and for estimating biomass, but information may quickly become outdated in dynamic forest environments. Satellite remote sensing may provide a supplement or substitute. We tested the accuracy of aboveground biomass estimates modeled from a combination of Landsat Thematic Mapper (TM) imagery and topographic data, as well as SBI-derived variables in a Picea abies forest in the Western Carpathian Mountains. We employed Random Forests for non-parametric, regression tree-based modeling. Results indicated a difference in the importance of SBI-based and remote sensing-based predictors when estimating aboveground biomass. The most accurate models for biomass prediction ranged from a correlation coefficient of 0.52 for the TM- and topography-based model, to 0.98 for the inventory-based model. While Landsat-based biomass estimates were measurably less accurate than those derived from SBI, adding tree height or stand-volume as a field-based predictor to TM and topography-based models increased performance to 0.36 and 0.86, respectively. Our results illustrate the potential of spectral data to reveal spatial details in stand structure and ecological complexity. © 2011 by the authors.
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Main-Knorn M, Moisen GG, Healey SP, Keeton WS, Freeman EA, Hostert P. Evaluating the remote sensing and inventory-based estimation of biomass in the Western Carpathians. Remote Sensing. 2011 Jul;3(7):1427-46.