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Research article2014Peer reviewed

Detection of windthrown trees using airborne laser scanning

Nyström, Mattias; Holmgren, Johan; Fransson, Johan; Olsson, Håkan


In this study, a method has been developed for the detection of windthrown trees under a forest canopy, using the difference between two elevation models created from the same high density (65 points/m(2)) airborne laser scanning data. The difference image showing objects near the ground was created by subtracting a standard digital elevation model (DEM) from a more detailed DEM created using an active surface algorithm. Template matching was used to automatically detect windthrown trees in the difference image. The 54 ha study area is located in hemi-boreal forest in southern Sweden (Lat. 58 degrees 29' N, Long. 13 degrees 38' E) and is dominated by Norway spruce (Picea abies) with 3.5% deciduous species (mostly birch) and 1.7% Scots pine (Pinus sylvestris). The result was evaluated using 651 field measured windthrown trees. At individual tree level, the detection rate was 38% with a commission error of 36%. Much higher detection rates were obtained for taller trees; 89% of the trees taller than 27 m were detected. For pine the individual tree detection rate was 82%, most likely due to the more easily visible stem and lack of branches. When aggregating the results to 40 m square grid cells, at least one tree was detected in 77% of the grid cells which according to the field measurements contained one or more windthrown trees. (C) 2014 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.


Storm damage; Downed logs; Template matching; Active surface; ALS; LiDAR

Published in

International Journal of Applied Earth Observation and Geoinformation
2014, Volume: 30, pages: 21-29