Canadian Forest Service Publications
Estimating boreal forest species type with airborne polarimetric synthetic aperture radar. 2011. Wollersheim, M.; Collins, M.J.; Leckie, D.G. International Journal of Remote Sensing 32(9): 2481-2505.
Available from: Pacific Forestry Centre
Catalog ID: 33373
Available from the Journal's Web site. †
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We have applied a non-parametric classifier (k nearest neighbour) to two calibrated orthogonal passes of airborne polarimetric synthetic aperture radar (POLSAR) image data over boreal forest for the purpose of discriminating canopy tree species of predefined stands. We found that a single classifier based on a single feature space (i.e. one set of POLSAR variables for all species) was less accurate than a hierarchical two-stage classifier that used different POLSAR variables for each species. We designed a two-stage classifier that first grouped stands into broad classes: pine, spruce and deciduous, and then classified each sample within the broad classes into individual species. We found that the most effective feature spaces had two or three dimensions. The two-stage classifier attained overall accuracies of between 60% and 75%.
We provide a first use of an equivalency test applied to remote-sensing classification. We use Lloyd's test of equivalency to find equivalent classifiers and thus infer informative POLSAR variables. The POLSAR variables that were most informative varied between the two passes and between the various elements of the hierarchical classifier. For the initial three-class classifier the most informative POLSAR variables were the two circular polarization ratios, several of Touzi's Stokes vector variables, HHVV coherence, several texture measures such as the variance of several scattering coefficients and the order parameter of the K-distribution and characteristics of the polarization signature pedestal. These results demonstrate that C-band POLSAR has great potential for mapping boreal forest cover either on its own or in concert with other geospatial data.