Overview of Three Ground Radar Experiments for Sensitivity Study over Temperate and Tropical Forests
Albinet, Clément1; Borderies, Pierre1; Hamadi, Alia2; Koleck, Thierry3; Floury, Nicolas4
1ONERA, FRANCE; 2CESBIO, FRANCE; 3CNES, FRANCE; 4ESA-ESTEC, NETHERLANDS
Tropical forests present the major part of the world forest biomass and their changes in biomass by deforestation and/or by forest regeneration affect strongly the terrestrial carbon budget. To measure with accuracy tropical forest biomass and its temporal change is one of the objectives of the BIOMASS mission , a candidate for the European Space Agency 7th Earth Explorer Mission. It is well known that low frequency radars may furnish lots of characteristics of forests, and in particular P-band (435 MHz) is often proposed for biomass estimation  and BIOMASS will be the first spaceborne Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) operating at P-band. Retrieval of bio-physical parameters of forests with remote sensing is nowadays a challenge. In particular, the biomass of the canopy, soil and branches moisture contents are three parameters of interest. To finely study the mechanisms of radar backscattering at P-band and to link the measurements to biophysical characteristics, sensitivity studies with simulated data are usually performed. In this paper, an original approach of experimental sensitivity studies is presented. Its goal is to better understand the influence of trunks, branches and soil moisture content with several measurements of the same site over time; and the influence of biomass, slope and forest height with measurements of several sites on a short period of time. Three proximity experiments at different scales were conducted: TREESCAT, a system that measures the daily evolution of a cedar radar response; TROPISCAT, a system that measures the daily evolution of a plot of tropical forest ; and a campaign to acquire vertical tomograms over several plots of pine forest with various configurations.
2.THE TREESCAT EXPERIMENT
This first proximity experiment consists in the observation of one tree with an emitter-receiver located on the roof of ONERA laboratory in Toulouse, South-West of France. This emitter-receiver is remotely controlled via Ethernet, and then a fine temporal survey of the radiometry and the phase scattered by a tree was performed (Figure 1).
3.THE TROPISCAT EXPERIMENT
This experiment has been designed to acquire the polarimetric intensity and the complex coherence in HH, VV and HV, together with a vertical imaging capability (tomography), and in time scales ranging from diurnal, weekly, monthly, up to one year of observation and possibly beyond. The instrument allows an automatic measurement cycle. It is developed with a state-of-the-art instrumentation (a Vector Network Analyzer, P-band antennas, a computer and RF switches boxes) to be assembled and installed on a tower overlooking a tropical forest (Figures 2 and 3). A calibration procedure is performed before each acquisition in order to ensure the quality of the results during all the experiment duration (more than one year).
4.HIGH RESOLUTION IN-SITU TOMOGRAPHY
A lot of work has been done with high resolution imaging at P-band  as well as at L-band . However, it remains a lot of interrogation about vertical disposal of scatterers, even with the polarimetric-interferometric techniques . Airborne tomography has a vertical resolution and shows some promising results  but the resolution is poor and doesn't allow to clearly isolate the volume contribution from the soil one. To resolve this uncertainty, an experiment similar to the TROPISCAT one, but with mobile antennas since operating from a bucket truck (Figure 4), allows to image various forest locations of Mende forest (Figure 5), South of France, with very high vertical resolution.
The three experiments results will be analyzed side by side in order to understand the mechanisms that link the trees moisture contents, the biomass, the forest structure and the other biophysical parameters to the radar backscattering.
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