The BIOMASS level 2 prototype processor: Design and experimental results of above-ground biomass estimation
Artikel i vetenskaplig tidskrift, 2020

BIOMASS is ESA's seventh Earth Explorer mission, scheduled for launch in 2022. The satellite will be the first P-band SAR sensor in space and will be operated in fully polarimetric interferometric and tomographic modes. The mission aim is to map forest above-ground biomass (AGB), forest height (FH) and severe forest disturbance (FD) globally with a particular focus on tropical forests. This paper presents the algorithms developed to estimate these biophysical parameters from the BIOMASS level 1 SAR measurements and their implementation in the BIOMASS level 2 prototype processor with a focus on the AGB product. The AGB product retrieval uses a physically-based inversion model, using ground-canceled level 1 data as input. The FH product retrieval applies a classical PolInSAR inversion, based on the Random Volume over Ground Model (RVOG). The FD product will provide an indication of where significant changes occurred within the forest, based on the statistical properties of SAR data. We test the AGB retrieval using modified airborne P-Band data from the AfriSAR and TropiSAR campaigns together with reference data from LiDAR-based AGB maps and plot-based ground measurements. For AGB estimation based on data from a single heading, comparison with reference data yields relative Root Mean Square Difference (RMSD) values mostly between 20% and 30%. Combining different headings in the estimation process significantly improves the AGB retrieval to slightly less than 20%. The experimental results indicate that the implemented retrieval scheme provides robust results that are within mission requirements.

Forest height


Earth explorer




Forest disturbance




Francesco Banda


Davide Giudici


Thuy Le Toan

Centre d'Etudes Spatiales de la BIOsphère (CES)

Mauro Mariotti d'Alessandro

Politecnico di Milano

Kostas Papathanassiou

Deutsches Zentrums für Luft- und Raumfahrt (DLR)

S. Quegan

University of Sheffield

Guido Riembauer

European Space Research and Technology Centre (ESA ESTEC)

Klaus Scipal

European Space Research and Technology Centre (ESA ESTEC)

Maciej Soja

MJ Soja Consulting

University of Tasmania

S. Tebaldini

Politecnico di Milano

Lars Ulander

Chalmers, Rymd-, geo- och miljövetenskap, Mikrovågs- och optisk fjärranalys

Ludovic Villard

Centre d'Etudes Spatiales de la BIOsphère (CES)

Remote Sensing

20724292 (eISSN)

Vol. 12 6 985

BIOMASS level 2 implementation study

European Space Research and Technology Centre (ESA ESTEC) (4000119231/167/NL/CT), 2017-02-01 -- 2020-01-31.







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