Articles | Volume 14, issue 2
25 Feb 2010
 | 25 Feb 2010

Spatial mapping of leaf area index using hyperspectral remote sensing for hydrological applications with a particular focus on canopy interception

H. H. Bulcock and G. P. W. Jewitt

Abstract. The establishment of commercial forestry plantations in natural grassland vegetation, results in increased transpiration and interception which in turn, results in a streamflow reduction. Methods to quantify this impact typically require LAI as an input into the various equations and process models that are applied. The use of remote sensing technology as a tool to estimate leaf area index (LAI) for use in estimating canopy interception is described in this paper. Remote sensing provides a potential solution to effectively monitor the spatial and temporal variability of LAI. This is illustrated using Hyperion hyperspectral imagery and three vegetation indices, namely the normalized difference vegetation index (NDVI), soil adjusted vegetation index (SAVI) and Vogelmann index 1 to estimate LAI in a catchment afforested with Eucalyptus, Pinus and Acacia genera in the KwaZulu-Natal midlands of South Africa. Of the three vegetation indices used in this study, it was found that the Vogelmann index 1 was the most robust index with an R2 and root mean square error (RMSE) values of 0.7 and 0.3 respectively. However, both NDVI and SAVI could be used to estimate the LAI of 12 year old Pinus patula accurately. If the interception component is to be quantified independently, estimates of maximum storage capacity and canopy interception are required. Thus, the spatial distribution of LAI in the catchment is used to estimate maximum canopy storage capacity in the study area.