Climatic Change

, Volume 67, Issue 2–3, pp 379–402 | Cite as

Relating Radar Remote Sensing of Biomass to Modelling of Forest Carbon Budgets

  • Thuy Le ToanEmail author
  • Shaun Quegan
  • Ian Woodward
  • Mark Lomas
  • Nicolas Delbart
  • Ghislain Picard


This paper addresses the use of radar remote sensing to map forest above-ground biomass, and discusses the use of biomass maps to test a dynamic vegetation model that identifies carbon sources and sinks and predicts their variation over time. For current radar satellite data, only the biomass of young/sparse forests or regrowth after disturbances can be recovered. An example from central Siberia illustrates that biomass can be measured by radar at a continental scale, and that a significant proportion of the Siberian forests have biomass values less than 50 tonnes/ha. Comparison between the radar map and calculations by the Sheffield Dynamic Global Vegetation Model (SDGVM) indicates that the model considerably overestimates biomass; under-representation of managed areas, disturbed areas and areas of low site quality in the model are suggested reasons for this effect. A case study carried out at the Büdingen plantation forest in Germany supports the argument that inadequate representations of site quality and forest management may cause model overestimates of biomass. Comparison of the calculated biomass of stands planted after 1990 with biomass estimates by radar allows identification of forest stands where the growth conditions assumed by the model are not valid. This allows a quality check on model calculations of carbon fluxes: only calculations for stands where there is good agreement between the data and the model predictions should be accepted. Although the paper only uses the SDGVM model, similar effects are likely in other dynamic vegetation models, and the results show that model calculations attempting to quantify the role of forests as carbon sources or sinks could be qualified and potentially improved by exploiting remotely sensed measurements of biomass.


Biomass Radar Remote Sensing Forest Carbon Site Quality 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 2004

Authors and Affiliations

  • Thuy Le Toan
    • 1
    Email author
  • Shaun Quegan
    • 2
  • Ian Woodward
    • 2
  • Mark Lomas
    • 2
  • Nicolas Delbart
    • 1
  • Ghislain Picard
    • 2
    • 1
  1. 1.Centre d’Etudes Spatiales de la BiosphèreCNES-CNRS-IRD-Université Paul SabatierToulouseFrance
  2. 2.Centre for Terrestrial Carbon Dynamics and Sheffield Centre for Earth Observation ScienceSheffieldU.K.

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