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Ballhorn, Uwe; Jubanski, Juilson and Siegert, Florian (2011): ICESat/GLAS Data as a Measurement Tool for Peatland Topography and Peat Swamp Forest Biomass in Kalimantan, Indonesia. In: Remote Sensing, Vol. 3, No. 9: pp. 1957-1982 [PDF, 3MB]

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Indonesian peatlands are one of the largest near-surface pools of terrestrial organic carbon. Persistent logging, drainage and recurrent fires lead to huge emission of carbon each year. Since tropical peatlands are highly inaccessible, few measurements on peat depth and forest biomass are available. We assessed the applicability of quality filtered ICESat/GLAS (a spaceborne LiDAR system) data to measure peatland topography as a proxy for peat volume and to estimate peat swamp forest Above Ground Biomass (AGB) in a thoroughly investigated study site in Central Kalimantan, Indonesia. Mean Shuttle Radar Topography Mission (SRTM) elevation was correlated to the corresponding ICESat/GLAS elevation. The best results were obtained from the waveform centroid (R2 = 0.92; n = 4,186). ICESat/GLAS terrain elevation was correlated to three 3D peatland elevation models derived from SRTM data (R2 = 0.90; overall difference = −1.0 m, ±3.2 m; n = 4,045). Based on the correlation of in situ peat swamp forest AGB and airborne LiDAR data (R2 = 0.75, n = 36) an ICESat/GLAS AGB prediction model was developed (R2 = 0.61, n = 35). These results demonstrate that ICESat/GLAS data can be used to measure peat topography and to collect large numbers of forest biomass samples in remote and highly inaccessible peatland forests.

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