An assessment of radiance in landsat tm middle and thermal infrared wavebands for the detection of tropical forest regeneration

Authors Organisations
  • D. S. Boyd(Author)
    University of Southampton
  • G. M. Foody(Author)
    University of Salford
  • P. J. Curran(Author)
    University of Southampton
  • Richard Lucas(Author)
    University of Southampton
  • M. Honzak(Author)
    Prifysgol Abertawe | Swansea University
Type Article
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)249-261
Number of pages13
JournalInternational Journal of Remote Sensing
Volume17
Issue number2
DOI
Publication statusPublished - 1996
Externally publishedYes
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Abstract

It has been postulated that tropical forests regenerating after deforestation constitute an unmeasured terrestrial sink of atmospheric carbon, and that the strength of this sink is a function of regeneration stage. Such regeneration stages can be characterized by biophysical properties, such as leaf and wood biomass, which influence the radiance emitted and/or reflected from the forest canopy. Remotely sensed data can therefore be used to estimate these biophysical properties and thereby determine the forest regenerative stage. Studies conducted on temperate forests have related biophysical properties successfully with red and near-infrared radiance, particularly within the Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI). However, only weak correlations have generally been observed for tropical forests and it is suggested here that the relationship between forest biophysical properties and middle and thermal infrared radiance may be stronger than that between those properties and visible and near-infrared radiance.
An assessment of Landsat Thematic Mapper (TM) data revealed that radiance acquired in middle and thermal infrared wavebands contained significant information for the detection of regeneration stages in Amazonian tropical forests. It was demonstrated that tropical forest regeneration stages were most separable using middle infrared and thermal infrared wavebands and that the correlation with regeneration stage was stronger with middle infrared, thermal infrared or combinations of these wavebands than they were with visible, near infrared or combinations of these wavebands. For example, correlation coefficients increased from — 0·26 (insignificant at 95 per cent confidence level) when using the NDVI, to up to 0·93 (significant at 99 per cent confidence level) for a vegetation index containing data acquired in the middle and thermal infrared wavebands. These results point to the value of using data acquired in middle and thermal infrared wavebands for the study of tropical forests.