An assessment of the optimal scale for monitoring of MODIS and FIA NPP across the eastern USA


Robust monitoring of carbon sequestration by forests requires the use of multiple data sources analyzed at a common scale. To that end, model-based Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) and field-based Forest Inventory and Analysis (FIA) data of net primary productivity (NPP) were compared at increasing levels of spatial aggregation across the eastern USA. A total of 52,167 FIA plots and colocated MODIS forest cover NPP pixels were analyzed using a hexagonal tiling system. A protocol was developed to assess the optimal scale as an optimal size of landscape patches at which to map spatially explicit estimates of MODIS and FIA NPP. The optimal mapping resolution (hereafter referred to as optimal scale) is determined using spatially scaled z-statistics as the tradeoff between increased spatial agreement as measured by Pearson’s correlation coefficient and decreased details of coverage as measured by the number of hexagons. Spatial sensitivity was also assessed using land cover assessment and forest homogeneity using spatially scaled z-statistics. Pearson correlations indicate that MODIS and FIA NPP are most highly correlated when using large hexagons, while z-statistics indicate an optimal scale at an intermediate hexagon size of 390 km2. This optimal scale had more spatial detail than was obtained for larger hexagons and greater spatial agreement than was obtained for smaller hexagons. The z-statistics for land cover assessment and forest homogeneity also indicated an optimal scale of 390 km2.

Environmental Monitoring and Assessment