Mapping of Sahelian vegetation parameters from ERS scatterometer data with an evolution strategies algorithm
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Remote Sensing of Environment;87(1): 72-84
Permanent link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/10568/33134
The West African Sahel rainfall regime is known for its spatio-temporal variability at different scales which has a strong impact on vegetation development. This study presents results of the combined use of a simple water balance model, a radiative transfer model and ERS scatterometer data to produce map of vegetation biomass and thus vegetation cover at a spatial resolution of 25 km. The backscattering coefficient measured by spaceborne wind scatterometers over Sahel shows a marked seasonality linked to the drastic changes of both soil and vegetation dielectric properties associated to the alternating dry and wet seasons. For lack of a direct observation, METEOSAT rainfall estimates are used to calculate temporal series of soil moisture with the help of a water balance model. This a priori information is used as input of the radiative transfer model that simulates the interaction between the radar wave and the surface components (soil and vegetation). Then, an inversion algorithm is applied to retrieve vegetation aerial mass from the ERS scatterometer data. Because of the nonlinear feature of the inverse problem to be solved, the inversion is performed using a global stochastic nonlinear inversion method. A good agreement is obtained between the inverse solutions and independent field measurements with mean and standard deviation of -54 and 130 kg of dry matter by hectare (kg DM/ha), respectively. The algorithm is then applied to a 350,000 km2 area including the Malian Gourma and Seno region and a Sahelian part of Burkina Faso during two contrasted seasons (1999 and 2000). At the considered resolution, the obtained herbaceous mass maps show a global qualitative consistency (r2=0.71) with NDVI images acquired by the VEGETATION instrument.