Polarimetric Radar Vegetation Index for Biomass Estimation in Desert Fringe Ecosystems

Jisung Geba Chang, Maxim Shoshany, Yisok Oh

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

51 Scopus citations


Biomass estimation of eastern Mediterranean shrublands was investigated using PALSAR full- and dual-polarization L-band and Sentinel-1 dual-polarization C-band data. First, we conducted an empirical assessment of single and multiple regressions between polarized backscattering coefficients and shrubland biomass distribution along the climatic gradient between semiarid and arid regions. We then found that the PALSAR L-band HV-polarized backscattering coefficient has higher biomass information content than Sentinel-1 C-band data. Based on a theoretical volume scattering model and a semiempirical model, we propose a new polarimetric radar vegetation index (PRVI) that utilizes the degree of polarization and the cross-polarized backscattering coefficient. The relationship between the new index and the biomass was assessed with reference to normalized difference vegetation index-based biomass estimates calculated using Landsat imagery. The PRVI was found to have higher correlation with biomass compared with other radar polarization parameters, in general, and an existing radar vegetation index (RVI), in particular. Assessment of PRVI-based biomass predictions compared with allometric data extracted from air photographs, Lidar, and field data for 67 sites across the desert fringe zone indicated moderate performance with an RMSE of 0.329 kg/m2, while an RVI-based biomass estimation had an RMSE of 0.439 kg/m2.

Original languageEnglish
Article number8402138
Pages (from-to)7102-7108
Number of pages7
JournalIEEE Transactions on Geoscience and Remote Sensing
Issue number12
StatePublished - 1 Dec 2018
Externally publishedYes


  • degree of polarization
  • polarimetric radar vegetation index (RVI) (PRVI)
  • shrublands

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering
  • General Earth and Planetary Sciences


Dive into the research topics of 'Polarimetric Radar Vegetation Index for Biomass Estimation in Desert Fringe Ecosystems'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this