Airborne Scanning

Milutin Milenković et. al: Total canopy transmittance estimated from small-footprint, full-waveform airborne LiDAR 31.03.2017

Canopy transmittance is a directional and wavelength-specific physical parameter that quantifies the amount of radiation attenuated when passing through a vegetation layer. The parameter has been estimated from LiDAR data in many different ways over the years. While early LiDAR methods treated each returned echo equally or weighted the echoes according to their return order, recent methods have focused more on the echo energy. In this study, we suggest a new method of estimating the total canopy transmittance considering only the energy of ground echoes. Therefore, this method does not require assumptions for the reflectance or absorption behavior of vegetation. As the oblique looking geometry of LiDAR is explicitly considered, canopy transmittance can be derived for individual laser beams and can be mapped spatially. The method was applied on a contemporary full-waveform LiDAR data set collected under leaf-off conditions and over a study site that contains two sub regions: one with a mixed (coniferous and deciduous) forest and another that is predominantly a deciduous forest in an alluvial plain. The resulting canopy transmittance map was analyzed for both sub regions and compared to aerial photos and the well-known fractional cover method. A visual comparison with aerial photos showed that even single trees and small canopy openings are visible in the canopy transmittance map. In comparison with the fractional cover method, the canopy transmittance map showed no saturation, i.e., there was better separability between patches with different vegetation structure.

The full article will be published in ISPRS Journal of Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing, Vol. 128, June 2017, Pages 61-72 and can be found here.