Comparative analysis of SRTM-NED vegetation canopy height to LIDAR-derived vegetation canopy metrics

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L. W. Kenyi, R. Dubayah, M. Hofton, Schardt M.

International Journal of Remote Sensing , 2009


egetation canopy heights derived from the SRTM 30 m grid DEM minus USGS National Elevation Data (NED) DTM were compared to three vegetation metrics derived from a medium footprint LIDAR data (LVIS) for the US Sierra Nevada forest in California. Generally the SRTM minus NED was found to underestimate the vegetation canopy height. Comparing the SRTM-NED-derived heights as a function of the canopy percentile height (shape/vertical structure) derived from LVIS, the SRTM SAR signal was found to penetrate, on average, into about 44% of the canopy and 85% after adjustment of the data. On the canopy type analysis, it was found that the SRTM phase scattering centres occurred at 60% for red fir, 53% for Sierra mixed conifer, 50% for ponderosa pine and 50% for montane hardwood-conifer. Whereas analysing the residual errors of the SRTM-NED minus the LVIS-derived canopy height as a function of LVIS canopy height and cover it was observed that the residuals generally increase with increasing canopy height and cover. Likewise, the behaviour of the RMSE as a function of canopy height and cover was observed to initially increase with canopy height and cover but saturates at 50 m canopy height and 60% canopy cover. On the other hand, the behaviour of the correlation coefficient as a function of canopy height and cover was found to be high at lower canopy height (<15 m) and cover (<20%) and decrease rapidly making a depression at medium canopy heights (>15 m and <50 m) and cover (>20% and <50%). It then increases with increasing canopy height and cover yielding a plateau at canopies higher than 50 m and cover above 70%.