Tree Crown Area, Satellite Imagery, and Deep Learning

Project PI: Compton Tucker, NASA

Blue Waters is used to determine arid and semi-arid carbon stocks over millions of km2, from the Sahara Desert southward to the savanna belt. Satellite imagery is used to compute tree crown area and DEMs are used to estimate vertical tree heights enabling a determination of woody tree biomass or woody carbon mass by allometry.

This work involves taking a very large volume of 50 cm satellite data and assembling mosaics by UTM Zone for processing. Deep learning is then used to segment and map discrete tree crowns over millions of km2. Associated tree crown shadow length and solar position are used to determine tree crown height trigonometrically. Tree heights are compared to tree heights generated from the SETSM EarthDEM project.