Skip to Main Content
U.S. Forest Service
Caring for the land and serving people

United States Department of Agriculture

Home > Search > Publication Information

  1. Share via EmailShare on FacebookShare on LinkedInShare on Twitter
    Dislike this pubLike this pub
    Author(s): Hans-Erik Andersen; Stephen E. Reutebuch; Robert J. McGaughey
    Date: 2005
    Source: Canadian Journal of Remote Sensing. 31(4): 283-288
    Publication Series: Scientific Journal (JRNL)
    PDF: Download Publication  (660 KB)


    Accurate digital terrain models (DTMs) are necessary for a variety of forest resource management applications, including watershed management, timber harvest planning, and fire management. Traditional methods for acquiring topographic data typically rely on aerial photogrammetry, where measurement of the terrain surface below forest canopy is difficult and error prone. The recent emergence of airborne P-band interferometric synthetic aperture radar (IFSAR), a highresolution, microwave remote sensing technology. has the potential to provide significantly more accurate terrain models in forested areas. Low-frequency, P-band radar energy physically penetrates through the vegetation canopy and reflects from the underlying terrain surface, allowing for accurate measurement of the terrain surface elevation even in areas with dense forest cover. In this study, the accuracy of a high-resolution DTM derived from P-band IFSAR data collected over a mountainous forest area in western Washington State was rigorously evaluated through a comparison with 347 topographic checkpoints measured with total station survey equipment and collected under a variety of canopy densities. The mean DTM error was -0.28 ± 2.59 m (mean ± standard deviation), and the root mean squared error (RMSE) was 2.6 m. DTM elevation errors for four canopy cover classes were -0.67 ± 1.20 m (RMSE = 1.38 m) for clearcut, -0.62 ± 1.00 m (RMSE = 1.18 m) for heavily thinned, -0.41 ± 2.32 m (RMSE = 2.36 m) for lightly thinned, and 0.20 ± 3.3 1 m (RMSE = 3.32 m) for uncut.

    Publication Notes

    • Visit PNW's Publication Request Page to request a hard copy of this publication.
    • We recommend that you also print this page and attach it to the printout of the article, to retain the full citation information.
    • This article was written and prepared by U.S. Government employees on official time, and is therefore in the public domain.


    Andersen, Hans-Erik; Reutebuch, Stephen E.; McGaughey, Robert J. 2005. Accuracy of an IFSAR-derived digital terrain model under a conifer forest canopy. Canadian Journal of Remote Sensing. 31(4): 283-288

    Related Search

    XML: View XML
Show More
Show Fewer
Jump to Top of Page