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    Author(s): Michael A. Lefskya; Michael Keller; Yong Panga; Plinio B. de Camargod; Maria O. Hunter
    Date: 2007
    Source: Journal of Applied Remote Sensing, Vol. 1, 013537
    Publication Series: Miscellaneous Publication
    PDF: Download Publication  (1.3 B)


    The vertical extent of waveforms collected by the Geoscience Laser Altimeter System (onboard ICESat - the Ice, Cloud, and land Elevation Satellite) increases as a function of terrain slope and footprint size (the area on the ground that is illuminated by the laser). Over sloped terrain, returns from both canopy and ground surfaces can occur at the same elevation. As a result, the height of the waveform (waveform extent) is insufficient to make estimates of tree height on sloped terrain, and algorithms are needed that are capable of retrieving information about terrain slope from the waveform itself. Early work on this problem used a combination of waveform height indices and slope indices from a digital elevation model (DEM). A second generation algorithm was developed using datasets from diverse forests in which forest canopy height has been estimated in the field or by via airborne lidar. Forest types considered in this paper include evergreen needleleaf, deciduous broadleaf and mixed stands in temperate North America, and tropical evergreen broadleaf forests in Brazil. The algorithm described eliminates the need for a DEM, and estimates forest canopy height with an RMSE of 5 m (83% of variance in forest canopy height explained).

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    • This article was written and prepared by U.S. Government employees on official time, and is therefore in the public domain.


    Lefsky,Michael A.; Keller, Michael; Panga, Yong; de Camargo, Plinio B.; Hunter, Maria O. 2007. Revised method for forest canopy height estimation from Geoscience Laser Altimeter System waveforms. Journal of Applied Remote Sensing, Vol. 1, 013537


    ICESat, GLAS, forest height, remote sensing

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