Estimation and modeling of selected forest metrics with lidar and Landsat Public Deposited


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  • Lidar is able to provide height and cover information which can be used to estimate selected forest attributes precisely. However, for users to evaluate whether the additional cost and complication associated with using Lidar merits adoption requires that the protocol to use lidar be thoroughly described and that a basis for selection of design parameters such as number of field plots and lidar pulse density be described. In our first analysis, we examine these issues by looking at the effects of pulse density and sample size on estimation when wall-to-wall lidar is used with a regression estimator. The effects were explored using resampling simulations. We examine both the effects on precision, and on the validity of inference. Pulse density had almost no effect on precision for the range examined, from 3 to .0625 pulses / m². The effect of sample size on estimator precision was roughly in accordance with the behavior indicated by the variance estimator, except that for small samples the variance estimator had positive bias (the variance estimates were too small), compromising the validity of inference. In future analyses we plan to provide further context for wall-to-wall lidar-assisted estimation. While there is a lot of literature on modeling, there is limited information on how lidar-assisted approaches compare to existing methods, and what variables can or cannot be acquired, or may be acquired with reduced confidence. We expand our investigation of estimation in our second analysis by examining lidar obtained in a sampling mode in combination with Landsat. In this case we make inference about the feasibility of a lidar-assisted estimation strategy by contrasting its variance estimate with variance estimates from a variety of other sampling designs and estimators. Of key interest was how the precision of a two-stage estimator with lidar strips compared with a plot-only estimator from a simple random sampling design. We found that because the long and narrow lidar strips incorporate much of the landscape variability, if the number of lidar strips was increased from 7 to 15 strips, the precision of estimators with lidar can exceed that of estimators applied to plot-only SRS data for a much larger number of plots. Increasing the number of lidar strips is considered to be highly viable since the costs of field plots can be quite expensive in Alaska, often exceeding the cost of a lidar strip. A Landsat-assisted approach used for either an SRS or a two-stage sample was also found to perform well relative to estimators for plot-only SRS data. This proved beneficial when we combined lidar and Landsat-assisted regression estimators for two-stage designs using a composite estimator. The composite estimator yielded much better results than either estimator used alone. We did not assess the effects of changing the number of lidar strips in combination with using a composite estimator, but this is an important analysis we plan to perform in a future study. In our final analysis we leverage the synergy between lidar and Landsat to improve the explanatory power of auxiliary Landsat using a multilevel modeling strategy. We also incorporate a more sophisticated approach to processing Landsat which reflects temporal trends in individual pixels values. Our approach used lidar as an intermediary step to better match the spatial resolution of Landsat and increase the proportion of area overlapped between measurement units for the different sources of data. We developed two separate approaches for two different resolutions of data (30 m and 90 m) using multiple modeling alternatives including OLS and k nearest neighbors (KNN), and found that both resolution and the modeling approach affected estimates of residual variability, although there was no combination of model types which was a clear winner for all responses. The modeling strategies generally fared better for the 90 m approaches, and future analyses will examine a broader range of resolutions. Fortunately the approaches used are fairly flexible and there is nothing prohibiting a 1000 m implementation. In the future we also plan to look at using a more sophisticated Landsat time-series approach. The current approach essentially dampened the noise in the temporal trend for a pixel, but did not make use of information in the trend such as slope or indications of disturbance – which may provide additional explanatory power. In a future study we will also incorporate a multilevel modeling into estimation or mapping strategies and evaluate the contribution of the multilevel modeling strategy relative to alternate approaches.
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  • description.provenance : Approved for entry into archive by Julie Kurtz( on 2012-06-21T21:30:27Z (GMT) No. of bitstreams: 1 Combined Chapters L 2012 June 21.pdf: 1888478 bytes, checksum: f948e84b17a9ef8a9a57ae0946e0f488 (MD5)
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