A Machine Learning Framework for Estimating Leaf Biochemical Parameters From Its Spectral Reflectance and Transmission Measurements

Publication Type:

Journal Article


IEEE Transactions on Geoscience and Remote Sensing, Volume 58, Issue 10, p.7393-7405 (2020)




Spectral measurements are commonly applied for the nondestructive estimation of leaf parameters, such as the concentrations of chlorophyll a and b, carotenoid, anthocyanin, brown pigment, leaf water content, and leaf mass per area for the quantification of vegetation physiology. The most popular way to estimate these parameters is by using spectral vegetation indices. The use of biochemical models allows us to use the full wavelength range (400-2500 nm) and to physically interpret the result. However, their performance is usually lower than that of supervised machine learning regression techniques. Machine learning regression techniques, on the other hand, have the disadvantage that the relationship between estimated parameters and the reflectance/transmission spectra is unclear. In this article, a hybrid between a supervised learning method and physical modeling for the estimation of leaf parameters is proposed. In this method, a machine learning regression technique is applied to learn a mapping from the true hyperspectral data set to a data set that follows the PROSPECT model. The PROSPECT model then reveals the actual leaf parameters. Two mapping methods, based on Gaussian processes (GPs) and kernel ridge regression (KRR) are proposed. As an alternative, mapping onto the leaf absorption spectra is proposed as well. The proposed methodology not only estimates the leaf parameters with a lower error but also solves the interpretation problem of the parameters estimated by the advanced machine learning regression techniques. This method is validated on the ANGERS and LOPEX data set.

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