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Integrated radar and lidar analysis reveals extensive loss of remaining intact forest on Sumatra 2007–2010

Collins, Murray and Mitchard, E. T. A. (2015) Integrated radar and lidar analysis reveals extensive loss of remaining intact forest on Sumatra 2007–2010. Biogeosciences, 12 (22). pp. 6637-6653. ISSN 1726-4189

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Identification Number: 10.5194/bg-12-6637-2015


Forests with high above-ground biomass (AGB), including those growing on peat swamps, have historically not been thought suitable for biomass mapping and changedetection using synthetic aperture radar (SAR). However, by integrating L-band (λ = 0.23 m) SAR from the ALOS and lidar from the ICESat Earth-Observing satellites with 56 field plots, we were able to create a forest biomass and change map for a 10.7 Mha section of eastern Sumatra that still contains high AGB peat swamp forest. Using a time series of SAR data we estimated changes in both forest area and AGB. We estimate that there was 274 ± 68 Tg AGB remaining in natural forest (≥ 20 m height) in the study area in 2007, with this stock reducing by approximately 11.4 % over the subsequent 3 years. A total of 137.4 kha of the study area was deforested between 2007 and 2010, an average rate of 3.8 % yr−1. The ability to attribute forest loss to different initial biomass values allows for far more effective monitoring and baseline modelling for avoided deforestation projects than traditional, optical-based remote sensing. Furthermore, given SAR’s ability to penetrate the smoke and cloud which normally obscure land cover change in this region, SARbased forest monitoring can be relied on to provide frequent imagery. This study demonstrates that, even at Lband, which typically saturates at medium biomass levels (ca. 150 Mg ha−1), in conjunction with lidar data, it is possible to make reliable estimates of not just the area but also the carbon emissions resulting from land use change.

Item Type: Article
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 2015 The Authors
Divisions: Geography & Environment
Subjects: G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GE Environmental Sciences
Date Deposited: 06 Jan 2016 10:41
Last Modified: 05 Jun 2024 05:27
Projects: TS/L007037/1, NE/M021998/1
Funders: Innovative UK, Economic and Social Research Council, Natural Environment Research Council

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