Very high resolution canopy height maps from RGB imagery using self-supervised vision transformer and convolutional decoder trained on Aerial Lidar

April 23, 2024


Vegetation structure mapping is critical for understanding the global carbon cycle and monitoring nature-based approaches to climate adaptation and mitigation. Repeated measurements of these data allow for the observation of deforestation or degradation of existing forests, natural forest regeneration, and the implementation of sustainable agricultural practices like agroforestry. Assessments of tree canopy height and crown projected area at a high spatial resolution are also important for monitoring carbon fluxes and assessing tree-based land uses, since forest structures can be highly spatially heterogeneous, especially in agroforestry systems. Very high resolution satellite imagery (less than one meter (1 m) Ground Sample Distance) makes it possible to extract information at the tree level while allowing monitoring at a very large scale. This paper presents the first high-resolution canopy height map concurrently produced for multiple sub-national jurisdictions. Specifically, we produce very high resolution canopy height maps for the states of California and São Paulo, a significant improvement in resolution over the ten meter (10 m) resolution of previous Sentinel / GEDI based worldwide maps of canopy height. The maps are generated by the extraction of features from a self-supervised model trained on Maxar imagery from 2017 to 2020, and the training of a dense prediction decoder against aerial lidar maps. We also introduce a post-processing step using a convolutional network trained on GEDI observations. We evaluate the proposed maps with set-aside validation lidar data as well as by comparing with other remotely sensed maps and field-collected data, and find our model produces an average Mean Absolute Error (MAE) of 2.8 m and Mean Error (ME) of 0.6 m.

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Written by

Jamie Tolan

Eric Yang

Ben Nosarzewski

Guillaume Couairon

Huy Vo

John Brandt

Justine Spore

Sayantan Majumdar

Daniel Haziza

Janaki Vamaraju

Theo Moutakanni

Piotr Bojanowski

Tracy Johns

Brian White

Tobias Tiecke

Camille Couprie

Edward Saenz


Remote Sensing of Environment

Research Topics

Computer Vision

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