Modeling forest above-ground biomass dynamics using multi-source data and incorporated models: A case study over the qilian mountains

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Journal Article
Agricultural and Forest Meteorology, 2017, 246 pp. 1 - 14
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© 2017 The Author(s) In this work, we present a strategy for obtaining forest above-ground biomass (AGB) dynamics at a fine spatial and temporal resolution. Our strategy rests on the assumption that combining estimates of both AGB and carbon fluxes results in a more accurate accounting for biomass than considering the terms separately, since the cumulative carbon flux should be consistent with AGB increments. Such a strategy was successfully applied to the Qilian Mountains, a cold arid region of northwest China. Based on Landsat Thematic Mapper 5 (TM) data and ASTER GDEM V2 products (GDEM), we first improved the efficiency of existing non-parametric methods for mapping regional forest AGB for 2009 by incorporating the Random Forest (RF) model with the k-Nearest Neighbor (k-NN). Validation using forest measurements from 159 plots and the leave-one-out (LOO) method indicated that the estimates were reasonable (R2 = 0.70 and RMSE = 24.52 tones ha−1). We then obtained one seasonal cycle (2011) of GPP (R2 = 0.88 and RMSE = 5.02 gC m−2 8d−1) using the MODIS MOD_17 GPP (MOD_17) model that was calibrated to Eddy Covariance (EC) flux tower data (2010). After that, we calibrated the ecological process model (Biome-BioGeochemical Cycles (Biome-BGC)) against above GPP estimates (for 2010) for 30 representative forest plots over an ecological gradient in order to simulate AGB changes over time. Biome-BGC outputs of GPP and net ecosystem exchange (NEE) were validated against EC data (R2 = 0.75 and RMSE = 1. 27 gC m−2 d−1 for GPP, and R2 = 0.61 and RMSE = 1.17 gC m−2 d−1 for NEE). The calibrated Biome-BGC was then applied to produce a longer time series for net primary productivity (NPP), which, after conversion into AGB increments according to site-calibrated coefficients, were compared to dendrochronological measurements (R2 = 0.73 and RMSE = 46.65 g m−2 year−1). By combining these increments with the AGB map of 2009, we were able to model forest AGB dynamics. In the final step, we conducted a Monte Carlo analysis of uncertainties for interannual forest AGB estimates based on errors in the above forest AGB map, NPP estimates, and the conversion of NPP to an AGB increment.
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