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New approach to calculating tree height at the regional scale

Congrong Li, Jinling Song, Jindi Wang
Published: 1 April 2021
Forest Ecosystems , Volume 8, pp 1-19; doi:10.1186/s40663-021-00300-4

Abstract: Background Determining the spatial distribution of tree heights at the regional area scale is significant when performing forest above-ground biomass estimates in forest resource management research. The geometric-optical mutual shadowing (GOMS) model can be used to invert the forest canopy structural parameters at the regional scale. However, this method can obtain only the ratios among the horizontal canopy diameter (CD), tree height, clear height, and vertical CD. In this paper, we used a semi-variance model to calculate the CD using high spatial resolution images and expanded this method to the regional scale. We then combined the CD results with the forest canopy structural parameter inversion results from the GOMS model to calculate tree heights at the regional scale. Results The semi-variance model can be used to calculate the CD at the regional scale that closely matches (mainly with in a range from − 1 to 1 m) the CD derived from the canopy height model (CHM) data. The difference between tree heights calculated by the GOMS model and the tree heights derived from the CHM data was small, with a root mean square error (RMSE) of 1.96 for a 500-m area with high fractional vegetation cover (FVC) (i.e., forest area coverage index values greater than 0.8). Both the inaccuracy of the tree height derived from the CHM data and the unmatched spatial resolution of different datasets will influence the accuracy of the inverted tree height. And the error caused by the unmatched spatial resolution is small in dense forest. Conclusions The semi-variance model can be used to calculate the CD at the regional scale, together with the canopy structure parameters inverted by the GOMS model, the mean tree height at the regional scale can be obtained. Our study provides a new approach for calculating tree height and provides further directions for the application of the GOMS model.
Keywords: Geometric-optical mutual shadowing (GOMS) model / Semi-variance model / Canopy diameter / Tree height / Regional scale

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