Mapping Coastal Wetland Biomass from High Resolution Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) Imagery


Share | 04/24/2020

Abstract: Salt marsh productivity is an important control of resiliency to sea level rise. However, our understanding of how marsh biomass and productivity vary across fine spatial and temporal scales is limited. Remote sensing provides a means for characterizing spatial and temporal variability in marsh aboveground biomass, but most satellite and airborne sensors have limited spatial and/or temporal resolution. Imagery from unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) can be used to address this data gap. We combined seasonal field surveys and multispectral UAV imagery collected using a DJI Matrice 100 and Micasense Rededge sensor from the Carpinteria Salt Marsh Reserve in California, USA to develop a method for high-resolution mapping of aboveground saltmarsh biomass. UAV imagery was used to test a suite of vegetation indices in their ability to predict aboveground biomass (AGB). The normalized difference vegetation index (NDVI) provided the strongest correlation to aboveground biomass for each season and when seasonal data were pooled, though seasonal models (e.g., spring, r2 = 0.67; RMSE = 344 g m?2) were more robust than the annual model (r2 = 0.36; RMSE = 496 g m?2). The NDVI aboveground biomass estimation model (AGB = 2428.2 × NDVI + 120.1) was then used to create maps of biomass for each season. Total site-wide aboveground biomass ranged from 147 Mg to 205 Mg and was highest in the spring, with an average of 1222.9 g m?2. Analysis of spatial patterns in AGB demonstrated that AGB was highest in intermediate elevations that ranged from 1.6–1.8 m NAVD88. This UAV-based approach can be used aid the investigation of biomass dynamics in wetlands across a range of spatial scales.

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Authors: Doughty, Cheryl & Cavanaugh, Kyle.

Associations: University of California, Los Angeles

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