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University of South Africa (2015)

Remote sensing of leaf area index in Savannah grass using inversion of radiative transfer model on Landsat 8 imagery : case study Mpumalanga, South Africa

Masemola, Cecilia Ramakgahlele

Titre : Remote sensing of leaf area index in Savannah grass using inversion of radiative transfer model on Landsat 8 imagery : case study Mpumalanga, South Africa

Auteur : Masemola, Cecilia Ramakgahlele

Université de soutenance : University of South Africa

Grade : Master of Science (MS) in Environmental Science 2015

Résumé
Savannahs regulate an agro-ecosystem crucial for the production of domestic livestock, one of the main sources of income worldwide as well as in South African rural communities. Nevertheless, globally these ecosystem functions are threatened by intense human exploitation, inappropriate land use and environmental changes. Leaf area index (LAI) defined as one half the total green leaf area per unit ground surface area, is an inventory of the plant green leaves that defines the actual size of the interface between the vegetation and the atmosphere. Thus, LAI spatial data could serve as an indicator of rangeland productivity. Consequently, the accurate and rapid estimation of LAI is a key requirement for farmers and policy makers to devise sustainable management strategies for rangeland resources. In this study, the main focus was to assess the utility and the accuracy of the PROSAILH radiative transfer model (RTM) to estimate LAI in the South African rangeland on the recently launched Landsat 8 sensor data. The Landsat 8 sensor has been a promising sensor for estimating grassland LAI as compared to its predecessors Landsat 5 to 7 sensors because of its increased radiometric resolution. For this purpose, two PROSAIL inversion methods and semi- empirical methods such as Normalized difference vegetation index (NDVI) were utilized to estimate LAI. The results showed that physically based approaches surpassed empirical approach with highest accuracy yielded by artificial neural network (ANN) inversion approach (RMSE=0.138), in contrast to the Look-Up Table (LUT) approach (RMSE=0.265). In conclusion, the results of this study proved that PROSAIL RTM approach on Landsat 8 data could be utilized to accurately estimate LAI at regional scale which could aid in rapid assessment and monitoring of the rangeland resources.

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