Wetenschappelijk artikelAnalysis of Sentinel-2 and RapidEye for Retrieval of Leaf Area Index in a Saltmarsh Using a Radiative Transfer Model

The Sentinel satellite fleet of the Copernicus Programme offers new potential to map and monitor plant traits at fine spatial and temporal resolutions. Among these traits, leaf area index (LAI) is a crucial indicator of vegetation growth and an essential variable in biodiversity studies. Numerous studies have shown that the radiative transfer approach has been a successful method to retrieve LAI from remote-sensing data. However, the suitability and adaptability of this approach largely depend on the type of remote-sensing data, vegetation cover and the ecosystem studied. Saltmarshes are important wetland ecosystems threatened by sea level rise among other human- and animal-induced changes. Therefore, monitoring their vegetation status is crucial for their conservation, yet few LAI assessments exist for these ecosystems. In this study, the retrieval of LAI in a saltmarsh ecosystem is examined using Sentinel-2 and RapidEye data through inversion of the PROSAIL radiative transfer model. Field measurements of LAI and some other plant traits were obtained during two succeeding field campaigns in July 2015 and 2016 on the saltmarsh of Schiermonnikoog, a barrier island of the Netherlands. RapidEye (2015) and Sentinel-2 (2016) data were acquired concurrent to the time of the field campaigns. The broadly employed PROSAIL model was inverted using two look-up tables (LUTs) generated in the spectral band’s settings of the two sensors and in which each contained 500,000 records. Different solutions from the LUTs, as well as, different Sentinel-2 spectral subsets were considered to examine the LAI retrieval. Our results showed that generally the LAI retrieved from Sentinel-2 had higher accuracy compared to RapidEye-retrieved LAI. Utilising the mean of the first 10 best solutions from the LUTs resulted in higher R2 (0.51 and 0.59) and lower normalised root means square error (NRMSE) (0.24 and 0.16) for both RapidEye and Sentinel-2 data respectively. Among different Sentinel-2 spectral subsets, the one comprised of the four near-infrared (NIR) and shortwave infrared (SWIR) spectral bands resulted in higher estimation accuracy (R2 = 0.44, NRMSE = 0.21) in comparison to using other studied spectral subsets. The results demonstrated the feasibility of broadband multispectral sensors, particularly Sentinel-2 for retrieval of LAI in the saltmarsh ecosystem via inversion of PROSAIL. Our results highlight the importance of proper parameterisation of radiative transfer models and capacity of Sentinel-2 spectral range and resolution, with impending high-quality global observation aptitude, for retrieval of plant traits at a global scale.

Remote Sensing