Evaluation of P-Band SAR Tomography for Mapping Tropical Forest Vertical Backscatter and Tree Height
Low-frequency tomographic synthetic aperture radar (TomoSAR) techniques provide an opportunity for quantifying the dynamics of dense tropical forest vertical structures. Here, we compare the performance of different TomoSAR processing, Back-projection (BP), Capon beamforming (CB), and MUltiple SIgnal Classification (MUSIC), and compensation techniques for estimating forest height (FH) and forest vertical profile from the backscattered echoes. The study also examines how polarimetric
... imetric measurements in linear, compact, hybrid, and dual circular modes influence parameter estimation. The tomographic analysis was carried out using P-band data acquired over the Paracou study site in French Guiana, and the quantitative evaluation was performed using LiDAR-based canopy height measurements taken during the 2009 TropiSAR campaign. Our results show that the relative root mean squared error (RMSE) of height was less than 10%, with negligible systematic errors across the range, with Capon and MUSIC performing better for height estimates. Radiometric compensation, such as slope correction, does not improve tree height estimation. Further, we compare and analyze the impact of the compensation approach on forest vertical profiles and tomographic metrics and the integrated backscattered power. It is observed that radiometric compensation increases the backscatter values of the vertical profile with a slight shift in local maxima of the canopy layer for both the Capon and the MUSIC estimators. Our results suggest that applying the proper processing and compensation techniques on P-band TomoSAR observations from space will allow the monitoring of forest vertical structure and biomass dynamics.