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): Alistair M. S. Smith; Michael J. Falkowski; Andrew T. Hudak; Jeffrey S. Evans; Andrew P. Robinson; Caiti M. Steele
    Date: 2010
    Source: Canadian Journal of Remote Sensing. 36(5): 447-459.
    Publication Series: Scientific Journal (JRNL)
    Station: Rocky Mountain Research Station
    PDF: View PDF  (1.16 MB)


    A common challenge when comparing forest canopy cover and similar metrics across different ecosystems is that there are many field- and landscape-level measurement methods. This research conducts a cross-comparison and evaluation of forest canopy cover metrics produced using unmixing of reflective spectral satellite data, light detection and ranging (lidar) data, and data collected in the field with spherical densiometers. The coincident data were collected across a ~25 000 ha mixed conifer forest in northern Idaho. The primary objective is to evaluate whether the spectral and lidar canopy cover metrics are each statistically equivalent to the field-based metrics. The secondary objective is to evaluate whether the lidar data can elucidate the sources of error observed in the spectral-based canopy cover metrics. The statistical equivalence tests indicate that spectral and field data are not equivalent (slope region of equivalence = 43%). In contrast, the lidar and field data are within the acceptable error margin of most forest inventory assessments (slope region of equivalence = 13%). The results also show that in plots where the mean lidar plot heights are near zero, each of modeled remotely sensed estimates continues to report canopy cover >21% for lidar and >30% for all investigated spectral methods using near-infrared bands. This suggests these metrics are sensitive to the presence of herbaceous vegetation, shrubs, seedlings, saplings, and other subcanopy vegetation.

    Publication Notes

    • You may send email to to request a hard copy of this publication.
    • (Please specify exactly which publication you are requesting and your mailing address.)
    • 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.


    Smith, Alistair M. S.; Falkowski, Michael J.; Hudak, Andrew T.; Evans, Jeffrey S.; Robinson, Andrew P.; Steele, Caiti M. 2010. A cross-comparison of field, spectral, and lidar estimates of forest canopy cover. Canadian Journal of Remote Sensing. 36(5): 447-459.


    forest canopy cover, cross-comparison, reflective spectral satellite data, light detection, ranging (lidar) data, metrics

    Related Search

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