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Is waveform worth it? A comparison of LiDAR approaches for vegetation and landscape characterisation

Disney, MI; Anderson, K; Hancock, S; Gaston, KJ; (2016) Is waveform worth it? A comparison of LiDAR approaches for vegetation and landscape characterisation. Remote Sensing in Ecology and Conservation , 2 (1) pp. 5-15. 10.1002/rse2.8. Green open access

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Abstract

Light Detection And Ranging (LiDAR) systems are frequently used in ecological studies to measure vegetation canopy structure. Waveform LiDAR systems offer new capabilities for vegetation modelling by measuring the time-varying signal of the laser pulse as it illuminates different elements of the canopy, providing an opportunity to describe the 3D structure of vegetation canopies more fully. This paper provides a comparison between waveform airborne laser scanning (ALS) data and discrete return ALS data using terrestrial laser scanning (TLS) data as an independent validation. With reference to two urban landscape typologies we demonstrate that discrete return ALS data provided more biased and less consistent measurements of woodland canopy height (in a 100% tree covered plot, height underestimation bias = 0.82 m; SD = 1.78m) than waveform ALS data (height overestimation bias = -0.65 m; SD = 1.45 m). The same biases were found in suburban data (in a plot consisting of 100% hard targets e.g. roads and pavements), but discrete return ALS were more consistent here than waveform data (SD = 0.57 m compared to waveform SD = 0.76 m). Discrete return ALS data performed poorly in describing the canopy understorey compared to waveform data. Results also highlighted errors in discrete return ALS intensity, which were not present with waveform data. Waveform ALS data therefore offer an improved method for measuring the three dimensional structure of vegetation systems but carry a higher data processing cost. New toolkits for analysing waveform data will expedite future analysis and allow ecologists to exploit the information content of waveform LiDAR.

Type: Article
Title: Is waveform worth it? A comparison of LiDAR approaches for vegetation and landscape characterisation
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1002/rse2.8
Publisher version: http://doi.org/10.1002/rse2.8
Language: English
Additional information: Copyright © 2017 The Author(s). Remote Sensing in Ecology and Conservation published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd on behalf of Zoological Society of London. This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. See here for more information: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/
Keywords: LiDAR, vegetation, waveform, structure, validation, urban
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS > Dept of Geography
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1472396
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