Remote sensing is the only practical method to map vegetation types in the steep and inaccessible mountains and valleys of the central Pacific coast. The results presented in our study offer a baseline mapping estimate of vegetation status in an area of the western United States subject to extreme weather events, climate change, and regular wildfires. In ecosystems of the Central Coast, radar backscatter signals received from the terrestrial surface included many pixels with mixed vegetation cover.
Volume and surface scattering played an important role in the response from coastal scrub plant communities, which increased the overall backscatter magnitude because of the presence of and interaction among different scattering mechanisms. Our results showed that the fusion of hyperspectral imagery and L-band SAR data can be used for accurate fractional vegetation mapping in the herbaceous-shrub communities of coastal California. The most striking results were obtained with the addition of L-band SAR texture features to help discriminate herbaceous cover from coastal scrub. Textural information from SAR data improved the fractional decomposition significantly. Expanded map products for vegetation fractional cover can next be ingested into biogeochemical cycling models for the entire central California coastal region to improve annual plant production and fuel biomass loading predictions.
Last date updated on June, 2014