Exploring the potential of world view-2 red-edge band-based vegetation indices for estimation of mangrove leaf area index with machine learning algorithms

Yuanhui Zhu, Kai Liu, Lin Liu, Soe Myint, Shugong Wang, Hongxing Liu, Zhi He

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

80 Scopus citations


To accurately estimate leaf area index (LAI) in mangrove areas, the selection of appropriate models and predictor variables is critical. However, there is a major challenge in quantifying and mapping LAI using multi-spectral sensors due to the saturation effects of traditional vegetation indices (VIs) for mangrove forests. WorldView-2 (WV2) imagery has proven to be effective to estimate LAI of grasslands and forests, but the sensitivity of its vegetation indices (VIs) has been uncertain for mangrove forests. Furthermore, the single model may exhibit certain randomness and instability in model calibration and estimation accuracy. Therefore, this study aims to explore the sensitivity of WV2 VIs for estimating mangrove LAI by comparing artificial neural network regression (ANNR), support vector regression (SVR) and random forest regression (RFR). The results suggest that the RFR algorithm yields the best results (RMSE = 0.45, 14.55% of the average LAI), followed by ANNR (RMSE = 0.49, 16.04% of the average LAI), and then SVR (RMSE = 0.51, 16.56% of the average LAI) algorithms using 5-fold cross validation (CV) using all VIs. Quantification of the variable importance shows that the VIs derived from the red-edge band consistently remain the most important contributor to LAI estimation. When the red-edge band-derived VIs are removed from the models, estimation accuracies measured in relative RMSE (RMSEr) decrease by 3.79%, 2.70% and 4.47% for ANNR, SVR and RFR models respectively. VIs derived from red-edge band also yield better accuracy compared with other traditional bands of WV2, such as near-infrared-1 and near-infrared-2 band. Furthermore, the estimated LAI values vary significantly across different mangrove species. The study demonstrates the utility of VIs of WV2 imagery and the selected machine-learning algorithms in developing LAI models in mangrove forests. The results indicate that the red-edge band of WV2 imagery can help alleviate the saturation problem and improve the accuracy of LAI estimation in a mangrove area.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number1060
JournalRemote Sensing
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 1 2017


  • Leaf area index
  • Machine learning
  • Mangrove forests
  • Red-edge band
  • Variable importance
  • Vegetation index
  • WorldView-2 imagery

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Earth and Planetary Sciences


Dive into the research topics of 'Exploring the potential of world view-2 red-edge band-based vegetation indices for estimation of mangrove leaf area index with machine learning algorithms'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this