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https://doi.org/10.5194/bg-2020-36
© Author(s) 2020. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
https://doi.org/10.5194/bg-2020-36
© Author(s) 2020. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

  25 Feb 2020

25 Feb 2020

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This preprint has been withdrawn by the authors.

Improving maps of forest aboveground biomass: A combined approach using machine learning with a spatial statistical model

Shaoqing Dai1,2,, Xiaoman Zheng1,2,, Lei Gao3, Chengdong Xu4, Shudi Zuo1,2,5, Qi Chen6, Xiaohua Wei7, and Yin Ren1,5 Shaoqing Dai et al.
  • 1Key Laboratory of Urban Environment and Health, Key Laboratory of Urban Metabolism of Xiamen, Institute of Urban Environment, Chinese Academy of Sciences, CN 361021, China
  • 2University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, CN 100049, China
  • 3CSIRO, Waite Campus, Urrbrae, SA 5064, Australia
  • 4State Key Laboratory of Resources and Environmental Information System, Institute of Geographic Sciences and Natural Resources Research, Chinese Academy of Sciences, CN 100049, China
  • 5Ningbo Urban Environment Observation and Research Station-NUEORS, Chinese Academy of Sciences, CN 315800, China
  • 6Department of Geography, University of Hawai'i at Mānoa, Honolulu, HI 96822, USA
  • 7Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences, University of British Columbia, Kelowna, BC V1V 1V7, Canada
  • These authors contributed equally to this work.

Abstract. Aboveground biomass (AGB) estimates at the plot level plays a major part in connecting accurate single-tree AGB measurements to relatively difficult regional-scale AGB estimates. However, complex and spatially heterogeneous landscapes, where multiple environmental covariates (such as longitude, latitude, and forest structure) affect the spatial distribution of AGB, make upscaling of plot-level models more challenging. To address this challenge, this study proposes an approach that combines machine learning with spatial statistics to construct a more accurate plot-level AGB model. The study was conducted in a Eucalyptus plantation in Nanjing, China. We developed, evaluated, and compared the accuracy and performance of three different machine learning models [support vector machine (SVM), random forest (RF), and the radial basis function artificial neural network (RBF-ANN)], one spatial statistics model (P-BSHADE), and three combinations thereof (SVM & P-BSHADE, RF & P-BSHADE, RBF-ANN & P-BSHADE) for forest AGB estimates based on AGB data from 30 sample plots and their corresponding environmental covariates. The results show that the performance indices RMSE, nRMSE, MAE, and MRE of all combined models are substantially smaller than those of any individual models, with the RF & P-BSHADE combined method giving the smallest value. These results demonstrate clearly that combined models, especially the RF & P-BSHADE model, can improve the accuracy of plot-level AGB models and reduce uncertainty on plot-level AGB estimates or even on large-forested-landscape AGB estimates. These research results are important because they reduce the uncertainty in estimates of the regional carbon balance.

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Shaoqing Dai et al.

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Shaoqing Dai et al.

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Short summary
This paper proposes a method to integrate the advantages of machine learning and spatial statistics, different datasets, and multiple environmental covariates to improve the accuracy of aboveground biomass estimation models, which provides a useful reference for climate change mitigation. This combined method can make full use of data from different sources, and realize the complementary advantages of machine learning and spatial statistics, which has important implications for other fields.
This paper proposes a method to integrate the advantages of machine learning and spatial...
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