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Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2012

Estimation of 3D vegetation structure from waveform and discrete return airborne laser scanning data

Lindberg Eva, Olofsson Kenneth, Holmgren Johan, Olsson Håkan

Abstract

This study presents and compares new methods to describe the 3D canopy structure with Airborne Laser Scanning (ALS) waveform data as well as ALS point data. The ALS waveform data were analyzed in three different ways; by summing the intensity of the waveforms in height intervals (a); by first normalizing the waveforms with an algorithm based on Beer-Lambert law to compensate for the shielding effect of higher vegetation layers on reflection from lower layers and then summing the intensity (b); and by deriving points from the waveforms (c). As a comparison, conventional, discrete return ALS point data from the laser scanning system were also analyzed (d). The study area was located in hemi-boreal, spruce dominated forest in the southwest of Sweden (Lat. 58° N, Long. 13° E). The vegetation volume profile was defined as the volume of all tree crowns and shrubs in 1 dm height intervals in a field plot and the total vegetation volume as the sum of the vegetation volume profile in the field plot. The total vegetation volume was estimated for 68 field plots with 12 m radius from the proportion between the amount of ALS reflections from the vegetation and the total amount of ALS reflections based on Beer-Lambert law. ALS profiles were derived from the distribution of the ALS data above the ground in 1 dm height intervals. The ALS profiles were rescaled using the estimated total vegetation volume to derive the amount of vegetation at different heights above the ground. The root mean square error (RMSE) for cross validated regression estimates of the total vegetation volume was 31.9% for ALS waveform data (a), 27.6% for normalized waveform data (b), 29.1% for point data derived from the ALS waveforms (c), and 36.5% for ALS point data from the laser scanning system (d). The correspondence between the estimated vegetation volume profiles was also best for the normalized waveform data and the point data derived from the ALS waveforms and worst for ALS point data from the laser scanning system as demonstrated by the Reynolds error index. The results suggest that ALS waveform data describe the volumetric aspects of vertical vegetation structure somewhat more accurately than ALS point data from the laser scanning system and that compensation for the shielding effect of higher vegetation layers is useful. The new methods for estimation of vegetation volume profiles from ALS data could be used in the future to derive 3D models of the vegetation structure in large areas.

Keywords

LiDAR; Waveform; Canopy structure; Vegetation profiles

Published in

Remote Sensing of Environment
2012, volume: 118, number: March, pages: 151-161

Authors' information

Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Forest Resource Management
Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Forest Resource Management
Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Forest Resource Management
Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Forest Resource Management

UKÄ Subject classification

Forest Science

Publication Identifiers

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.rse.2011.11.015

URI (permanent link to this page)

https://res.slu.se/id/publ/36054