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Title: Challenges to aboveground biomass prediction from waveform lidar
Authors: Bruening, Jamis M.
Fischer, Rico
Bohn, Friedrich J.
Armston, John
Armstrong, Amanda H.
Knapp, Nikolai
Tang, Hao 
Huth, Andreas
Dubayah, Ralph
Keywords: aboveground biomass
forest modeling
forest structure
waveform lidar
Issue Date: 24-Nov-2021
Publisher: IOP Publishing Ltd
Citation: Bruening, Jamis M., Fischer, Rico, Bohn, Friedrich J., Armston, John, Armstrong, Amanda H., Knapp, Nikolai, Tang, Hao, Huth, Andreas, Dubayah, Ralph (2021-11-24). Challenges to aboveground biomass prediction from waveform lidar. Environmental Research Letters 16 (12) : 125013. ScholarBank@NUS Repository.
Rights: Attribution 4.0 International
Abstract: Accurate accounting of aboveground biomass density (AGBD) is crucial for carbon cycle, biodiversity, and climate change science. The Global Ecosystem Dynamics Investigation (GEDI), which maps global AGBD from waveform lidar, is the first of a new generation of Earth observation missions designed to improve carbon accounting. This paper explores the possibility that lidar waveforms may not be unique to AGBD-That forest stands with different AGBD may produce highly similar waveforms-And we hypothesize that non-uniqueness may contribute to the large uncertainties in AGBD predictions. Our analysis integrates simulated GEDI waveforms from 428 in situ stem maps with output from an individual-based forest gap model, which we use to generate a database of potential forest stands and simulate GEDI waveforms from those stands. We use this database to predict the AGBD of the 428 in situ stem maps via two different methods: A linear regression from waveform metrics, and a waveform-matching approach that accounts for waveform-AGBD non-uniqueness. We find that some in situ waveforms are more unique to AGBD than others, which notably impacts AGBD prediction uncertainty (7-411 Mg ha-1, average of 167 Mg ha-1). We also find that forest structure complexity may influence the non-uniqueness effect; stands with low structural complexity are more unique to AGBD than more mature stands with multiple cohorts and canopy layers. These findings suggest that the non-uniqueness phenomena may be introduced by the measuring characteristics of waveform lidar in combination with how forest structure manifests at small scales, and we discuss how this complexity may complicate uncertainty estimation in AGBD prediction. This analysis suggests a limit to the accuracy and precision of AGBD predictions from lidar waveforms seen in empirical studies, and underscores the need for further exploration of the relationships between lidar remote sensing measurements, forest structure, and AGBD. © 2021 The Author(s). Published by IOP Publishing Ltd.
Source Title: Environmental Research Letters
ISSN: 1748-9318
DOI: 10.1088/1748-9326/ac3cec
Rights: Attribution 4.0 International
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