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AIRSAR studies of woody shrub density in semiarid rangeland: Jornada del Muerto, New Mexico

Remote Sensing of Environment

By:
, , and
DOI: 10.1016/S0034-4257(98)00033-9

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Abstract

This study evaluates the use of polarimetric Airborne Synthetic Aperture Radar (AIRSAR) data to assess woody shrub density in a semiarid site where the vegetation consists primarily of varied mixtures of herbaceous vegetation and shrubs. AIRSAR data and field observations of vegetation cover and growth form-composition were obtained for 59 sites in the Jornada del Muerto plain in southern New Mexico. Radar signature measures examined were C-, L- and P-band backscattering coefficients (??0) for HH, HV and W polarizations, ratios of ??0HH and ??0HV to ??0VV, and the HH-VV polarization phase difference and correlation coefficient. The most effective measure for estimation of shrub density was L-band ??0HV, which distinguished among shrub density classes with no misclassification. Sensitivity of this measure to small amounts of shrub cover was indicated by successful separation of sites with <1% shrub cover from sites with 1-5% cover. Separability of shrub density classes was generally least for C-band signature measures. A distinctive radar signature was exhibited by dense stands of Yucca elata, a semitreelike plant with uniformly thick ???10 cm diameter) fibrous stems. Yucca sites were distinguished from others by their high P-band ??0HV relative to L-band ??0HV. The results are largely explained by the greater sensitivity of lounger wavelengths to larger canopy structural elements. L-band ??0HV and other measures responsive to canopy volume scattering were more strongly related to shrub than to herbaceous plant cover because woody shrub canopies have numerous stems of the intermediate size to which L-band is most sensitive, whereas stems of this size are mostly lacking in herbaceous canopies. The uniform-diameter stems of yucca have larger dimensions to which P-band is more sensitive than L-band.This study evaluates the use of polarimetric Airborne Synthetic Aperture Radar (AIRSAR) data to assess woody shrub density in a semiarid site where the vegetation consists primarily of varied mixtures of herbaceous vegetation and shrubs. AIRSAR data and field observations of vegetation cover and growth form-composition were obtained for 59 sites in the Jornada del Muerto plain in southern New Mexico. Radar signature measures examined were C-, L- and P-band backscattering coefficients (??0) for HH, HV and VV polarizations, ratios of ??0HH and ??0HV to ??0VV, and the HH-VV polarization phase difference and correlation coefficient. The most effective measure for estimation of shrub density was L-band ??0HV, which distinguished among shrub density classes with no misclassification. Sensitivity of this measure to small amounts of shrub cover was indicated by successful separation of sites with <1% shrub cover from sites with 1-5% cover. Separability of shrub density classes was generally least for C-band signature measures. A distinctive radar signature was exhibited by dense stands of Yucca elata, a semitreelike plant with uniformly thick (???10 cm diameter) fibrous stems. Yucca sites were distinguished from others by their high P-band ??0HV relative to L-band ??0HV. The results are largely explained by the greater sensitivity of longer wavelengths to larger canopy structural elements. L-band ??0HV and other measures responsive to canopy volume scattering were more strongly related to shrub than to herbaceous plant cover because woody shrub canopies have numerous stems of the intermediate size to which L-band is most sensitive, whereas stems of this size are mostly lacking in herbaceous canopies. The uniform-diameter stems of yucca have larger dimensions to which P-band is more sensitive than L-band.

Additional Publication Details

Publication type:
Article
Publication Subtype:
Journal Article
Title:
AIRSAR studies of woody shrub density in semiarid rangeland: Jornada del Muerto, New Mexico
Series title:
Remote Sensing of Environment
DOI:
10.1016/S0034-4257(98)00033-9
Volume
66
Issue:
1
Year Published:
1998
Language:
English
Publisher:
Elsevier Science Inc
Publisher location:
New York, NY, United States
Larger Work Type:
Article
Larger Work Subtype:
Journal Article
Larger Work Title:
Remote Sensing of Environment
First page:
29
Last page:
40
Number of Pages:
12