Radar backscatter modelling of forests using a macroecological approach
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This thesis provides a new explanation for the behaviour of radar backscatter of forests using vegetation structure models from the field of macroecology. The forests modelled in this work are produced using allometry-based ecological models with backscatter derived from the parameterisation of a radiative transfer model. This work is produced as a series of papers, each portraying the importance of macroecology in defining the forest radar response. Each contribution does so by incorporating structural and dynamic effects of forest growth using one of two allometric models to expose variations in backscatter as a response to vertical and horizontal forest profiles. The major findings of these studies concern the origin of backscatter saturation effects from forest SAR surveys. In each work the importance of transition from Rayleigh to Optical scattering, combined with the scaling effects of forest structure, is emphasised. These findings are administered through evidence including the transition’s emergence as the region of dominant backscatter in a vertical profile (according to a dominant canopy scattering layer), also through the existence of a two trend backscatter relationship with volume in the shape of the typical “saturation curve” (in the absence of additional attenuating factors). The importance of scattering regime change is also demonstrated through the relationships with volume, basal area and thinning. This work’s findings are reinforced by the examination of the relationships between forest height and volume, as collective values, providing evidence to suggest the non-uniqueness of volume-toheight relationships. Each of the studies refer to growing forest communities not single trees, so that unlike typical studies of radar remote sensing of forests the impact of the macroecological structural aspects are more explicit. This study emphasises the importance of the overall forest structure in producing SAR backscatter and how backscatter is not solely influenced by electrical properties of scatteres or the singular aspects of a tree but also by the collective forest parameters defining a dynamically changing forest.