Resolution dependence in an area-based approach to forest inventory with airborne laser scanning
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CitationPackalen, Petteri. Strunk, Jacob. Packalen, Tuula. Maltamo, Matti. Mehtätalo, Lauri. (2019). Resolution dependence in an area-based approach to forest inventory with airborne laser scanning. Remote sensing of environment, 224, 192-201. 10.1016/j.rse.2019.01.022.
In an Area Based Approach (ABA) to forest inventories using Airborne Laser Scanning (ALS) data, the sample plot size may vary or the cell size may differ from the plot size. Although this resolution mismatch may cause bias and increase in prediction error, it has not been thoroughly studied. The aim of this study was to clarify the meaning of resolution dependence in ABA, and to further identify its causal factors and quantify their effects. In general, a number of factors contribute to resolution dependence in ABA forest inventories, including the varying point density of the ALS data, the type of response variable, how the predictor variables are computed, and the properties of the prediction model. For quantification, we used field plots with mapped tree locations, which enabled the generation of different sized sample plots inside a larger plot. Plot level above ground biomass (AGB) was the response variable employed in all the models. The error rate seemed to increase when the prediction plots were larger than the fitting plots, and vice versa. The maximum BIAS was 1.50% and the maximum change of RMSE compared to its value in native resolution was 0.97% when there was a 4-fold difference in resolution. This indicates that the resolution effect is small in most real-world use cases, however, resolution effect should be carefully considered in ALS-assisted large area inventories that target unbiased estimates of forest parameters.