Date of Award

8-1-2013

Degree Name

Master of Science

Department

Geography and Environmental Resources

First Advisor

Wang, Guangxing

Abstract

The increasing interest of modeling global carbon cycling during the past two decades has driven this research to map leaf area index (LAI) at multiple spatial resolutions by combining LAI field observations with various sensor images at local, regional, and global scale. This is due to its important role in process based models that are used to predict carbon sequestration of terrestrial ecosystems. Although a substantial research has been conducted, there are still many challenges in this area. One of the challenges is that various images with spatial resolutions varying from few meters to several hundred meters and even to 1 km have been used. However, a method that can be used to collect LAI field measurements and further conduct multiple spatial resolution mapping and accuracy assessment of LAI is not available. In this study, a pilot study in a complex landscape located in the Southern Illinois was carried out to map LAI by combining field observations and remotely sensed images. Multi-scale mapping and accuracy assessment of LAI using aerial photo, Landsat TM and MODIS images were explored by developing a multi-scale sampling design. The results showed that the sampling design could be used to collect LAI observations to create LAI products at various spatial resolutions and further conduct accuracy assessment. It was also found that the TM derived LAI maps at the original and aggregated spatial resolutions successfully characterized the heterogeneous landscape and captured the spatial variability of LAI and were more accurate than those from the aerial photo and MODIS. The aerial photo derived models led to not only over- and under-estimation, but also pixilated maps of LAI. The MODIS derived LAI maps had an acceptable accuracy at various spatial resolutions and are applicable to mapping LAI at regional and global scale. Thus, this study overcame some of the significant gaps in this field.

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