Towards a Harmonized Biomass Potential Assessment in Europe: User Requirements and Initial Developments Using EO and Terrestrial Data

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Kalaitzidis H., Hirschmugl M., Perko R.

Paris, France Proceedings of the 30th Symposium of the European Association of Remote Sensing Laboratories Remote Sensing for Science, Education and Culture Paris, France, 31 .5. – 3. 6. 2010, p707-713, 6/2010


This paper summarizes the current status and findings of the project CEUBIOM (Classification of European Biomass Potential for Bioenergy Using Terrestrial and Earth Observations). The overall aim of this coordination and support action is to develop a harmonized method for the assessment of biomass for bioenergy applicable in whole Europe. In previous work packages, the terrestrial methods as well as remote sensing algorithms were reviewed and analysed for their usability for a harmonized approach. In addition, international and European initiatives, projects and their results were examined.  Within the harmonization work package the first step towards the design of a harmonized approach was the user requirements assessment. Based on 43 questionnaires received from national users of 15 countries, the preliminary user requirements were extracted, which will be refined when the European user requirements are integrated. However, based on this first set of requirements, the development of a harmonized assessment has started. A review of state-of-the-art combination methods for terrestrial and remote sensing data for both forest and agricultural biomass was the next step. In parallel to the method review, an inventory of terrestrial data available in each of the fifteen countries involved in the project was undertaken.  Based on the method review, for forest biomass, a top-down approach based on optical data is recommended, to classify main forest parameters such as species, density and age. In addition, tree height should be included if possible. Based on these parameters, yield tables from terrestrial measurements can be used to calculate the theoretical biomass potential.  For agricultural biomass, the review led to the result that SAR data would be the best option to measure biomass. However regarding the high complexity of SAR processing technology opposed to a maximum intermediate complexity required by the users, the alternative would be an approach using land cover classes from remote sensing and combining them with production or yield statistics from national sources or EUROSTAT.
In the next step, the recommended methods and available data sets will be compared and combined to calculate the theoretical biomass potential. Then a set of boundary conditions (use for food and fibre, sustainability, economic criteria etc) will be defined to generate a feasible method to assess biomass potential for bioenergy in a harmonized manner.