An article of Chengyan Gua, Jan Clevers, Xiao Liu, Xin Tian, Zhouyuan Li, Zengyuan Li: Predicting forest height using the GOST, Landsat 7 ETM+, and airborne LiDAR for sloping terrains in the Greater Khingan Mountains of China, has been published in ISPRS Journal of Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing, Volume 137, March 2018, Pages 97–111.
Sloping terrain of forests is an overlooked factor in many models simulating the canopy bidirectional reflectance distribution function, which limits the estimation accuracy of forest vertical structure parameters (e.g., forest height). The primary objective of this study was to predict forest height on sloping terrain over large areas with the Geometric-Optical Model for Sloping Terrains (GOST) using airborne Light Detection and Ranging (LiDAR) data and Landsat 7 imagery in the western Greater Khingan Mountains of China. The Sequential Maximum Angle Convex Cone (SMACC) algorithm was used to generate image endmembers and corresponding abundances in Landsat imagery. Then, LiDAR-derived forest metrics, topographical factors and SMACC abundances were used to calibrate and validate the GOST, which aimed to accurately decompose the SMACC mixed forest pixels into sunlit crown, sunlit background and shade components. Finally, the forest height of the study area was retrieved based on a back-propagation neural network and a look-up table. Results showed good performance for coniferous forests on all slopes and at all aspects, with significant coefficients of determination above 0.70 and root mean square errors (RMSEs) between 0.50 m and 1.00 m based on ground observed validation data. Higher RMSEs were found in areas with forest heights below 5 m and above 17 m. For 90% of the forested area, the average RMSE was 3.58 m. Our study demonstrates the tremendous potential of the GOST for quantitative mapping of forest height on sloping terrains with multispectral and LiDAR inputs.
Keywords: Forest height; Geometric-Optical Model for Sloping Terrains (GOST); Airborne LiDAR; Landsat