MULTI-SENSOR APPROACH TO LEAF AREA INDEX ESTIMATION USING STATISTICAL MACHINE LEARNING MODELS: A CASE ON MANGROVE FORESTS
Keywords: Sentinel-2, Sentinel-1 SAR, Leaf Area Index, Machine Learning, Random Forest
Abstract. Leaf Area Index (LAI) is a quantity that characterizes canopy foliage content. As leaf surfaces are the primary sites of energy, mass exchange, and fundamental production of terrestrial ecosystem, many important processes are directly proportional to LAI. With this, LAI can be considered as an important parameter of plant growth. Multispectral optical images have been widely utilized for mangrove-related studies, such as LAI estimation. In Sentinel-2, for example, LAI can be estimated using a biophysical processor in SNAP or using various machine learning algorithms. However, multispectral optical images have disadvantages due to its weather-dependence and limited canopy penetration. In this study, a multi-sensor approach was implemented by using free multi-spectral optical images (Sentinel-2 ) and synthetic aperture radar (SAR) images (Sentinel-1) to perform Leaf Area Index (LAI) estimation. The use of SAR images can compensate for the above-mentioned disadvantages and it then can pave the way for regular mapping and assessment of LAI, despite any weather conditions and cloud cover. In this study, generation of LAI models that explores linear, non-linear and decision trees modelling algorithms to incorporate Sentinel-1 derivatives and Sentinel-2 LAI were executed. The Random Forest model have exhibited the most robust model having the lowest RMSE of 0.2845. This result poses a concrete relationship of a biophysical entity derived from optical parameters to RADAR derivatives to which opens the opportunity of integrating both systems to compensate each disadvantages and produce a more efficient quantification of LAI.