09 Feb 2023
 | 09 Feb 2023
Status: a revised version of this preprint is currently under review for the journal ESSD.

Annual forest maps in the contiguous United States during 2015–2017 from analyses of PALSAR-2 and Landsat images

Jie Wang, Xiangming Xiao, Yuanwei Qin, Jinwei Dong, Geli Zhang, Xuebin Yang, Xiaocui Wu, Chandrashekhar Biradar, and Yang Hu

Abstract. Annual forest maps at a high spatial resolution are necessary for forest management and conservation. Large uncertainties remain among the existing forest maps, because of different forest definitions, satellite datasets, in-situ training datasets, and mapping algorithms. In this study, we generated annual forest maps and evergreen forest maps at a 30-m resolution in the Contiguous United States (CONUS) during 2015–2017 by integrating microwave data (Phased Array type L-band Synthetic Aperture Radar (PALSAR-2)) and optical data (Landsat) using Knowledge-based algorithms. The resultant PALSAR-2/Landsat-based forest maps (PL-Forest) were compared with five major forest datasets in the CONUS: (1) the Landsat tree canopy cover from Global Forest Watch datasets (GFW-Forest), (2) the Landsat Vegetation Continuous Field datasets (Landsat VCF-Forest), (3) the National Land Cover Database 2016 (NLCD-Forest), (4) the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) forest maps (JAXA-Forest), and (5) the Forest Inventory and Analysis (FIA) data from the USDA Forest Service (FIA-Forest). The forest structure data (tree canopy height and canopy coverage) derived from the lidar observations of the Geoscience Laser Altimetry System (GLAS) onboard of NASA's Ice, Cloud, and land Elevation Satellite (ICESat-1) were used to assess the five forest datasets derived from satellite images. Using the forest definition by the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) of the United Nations, more forest pixels from the PL-Forest maps meet the FAO’s forest definitions than the GFW-, Landsat VCF-, and JAXA-Forest datasets. Forest area estimates from the PL-Forest were close to those from the FIA-Forest statistics but higher than the GFW-Forest, NLCD-Forest and lower than the Landsat VCF-Forest, which highlights the potential of using both PL-Forest and FIA-Forest datasets to support the FAO's Global Forest Resources Assessment. Furthermore, the PL-based annual evergreen forest maps (PL-Evergreen Forest) showed reasonable consistency with the NLCD product. Together with our previous work in South America and monsoon Asia, this study further demonstrates the potential of integrating PALSAR and Landsat images for developing annual forest maps and forest-type maps at high spatial resolution across the scales from region to the globe, which could be used to support FAO Global Forest Resources Assessments. The PL-Forest and PL-Evergreen Forest datasets are publicly available at (Wang et al., 2022).

Jie Wang et al.

Status: final response (author comments only)

Comment types: AC – author | RC – referee | CC – community | EC – editor | CEC – chief editor | : Report abuse
  • CC1: 'Comment on essd-2022-339', cao zhiyue, 06 Jun 2023
    • CC2: 'Reply on CC1', jie wang, 12 Jun 2023
  • CC3: 'Comment on essd-2022-339', Rehman Khan, 21 Jun 2023
    • CC4: 'Reply on CC3', jie wang, 26 Jul 2023
  • RC1: 'Comment on essd-2022-339', Anonymous Referee #1, 15 Aug 2023
    • AC1: 'Reply on RC1', Xiangming Xiao, 10 Sep 2023
    • AC2: 'Reply on RC1', Xiangming Xiao, 10 Sep 2023
  • RC2: 'Comment on essd-2022-339', Anonymous Referee #2, 10 Sep 2023
    • AC3: 'Reply on RC2', Xiangming Xiao, 17 Oct 2023
  • RC3: 'Comment on essd-2022-339', Anonymous Referee #3, 19 Sep 2023
    • AC4: 'Reply on RC3', Xiangming Xiao, 17 Oct 2023

Jie Wang et al.

Data sets

30m Forest and Evergreen Forest in 2015 to 2017 Jie Wang

Jie Wang et al.


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Short summary
Existing satellite-based forest maps remain large uncertainties, due to different forest definitions and mapping algorithms. To effectively manage the forest resources, timely and accurate annual forest maps at a high spatial resolution are demanded. This study improved the forest maps by integrating the PALSAR-2 and Landsat images. The annual evergreen and non-evergreen forest type maps were also generated. This critical information supports the Global Forest Resources Assessment.