Estimation of Leaf Area Index : Application and Transferability of a Semi-Empirical Model between two Agricultural Areas
Neugebauer, Nikolaus1; Vuolo, Francesco1; Falanga, Salvatore2; Atzberger, Clement1; D'Urso, Guido3
1University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences, Vienna, AUSTRIA; 2Ariespace srl, ITALY; 3University of Naples Federico II, ITALY

This work evaluates different procedures for the application of a semi-empirical model to derive time-series of Leaf Area Index (LAI) maps in operation frameworks.

For demonstration multi-temporal observations of DEIMOS-1 satellite sensor data were used. The datasets were acquired during the 2012 growing season over two agricultural regions in Southern Italy and Eastern Austria (8 and 5 multi-temporal acquisitions, respectively). Contemporaneous field estimates of LAI (74 and 55 measurements, respectively) were collected using an indirect method (LAI-2000) over a range of LAI values and crop types. The atmospherically corrected reflectance in red and near-infrared spectral bands was used to calculate the Weighted Difference Vegetation Index (WDVI) and to establish a relationship between LAI and WDVI based on the CLAIR model.

Bootstrapping approaches were used to validate the models and to calculate the Root Mean Square Error (RMSE) and the coefficient of determination (R2) between measured and predicted LAI, as well as corresponding confidence intervals. The most suitable approach, which at the same time had the with minimum requirements for fieldwork, resulted in a RMSE of 0.407 and R2 of 0.88 for Italy and a RMSE of 0.86 and R2 of 0.64 for the Austrian test site. Considering this procedure, we also evaluated the transferability of the local CLAIR model parameters between the two test sites observing no significant decrease in estimation accuracies.

Additionally, we investigated two other statistical methods to estimate LAI based on: a) Support Vector Machine (SVM) and b) Random Forest (RF) regressions. Though the accuracy was comparable to the CLAIR model for each test site, we observed severe limitations in the transferability of these statistical methods between test sites with an increase in RMSE up to 24.5% for RF and 38.9% for SVM.