Evaluating Lidar Point Densities for Effective Estimation of Aboveground Biomass

Zhuoting Wu, Dennis Dye, Jason Stoker, John Vogel, Miguel Velasco, Barry Middleton, (doi: 10.23953/cloud.ijarsg.40)

Abstract


The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) 3D Elevation Program (3DEP) was recently established to provide airborne lidar data coverage on a national scale. As part of a broader research effort of the USGS to develop an effective remote sensing-based methodology for the creation of an operational biomass Essential Climate Variable (Biomass ECV) data product, we evaluated the performance of airborne lidar data at various pulse densities against Landsat 8 satellite imagery in estimating above ground biomass for forests and woodlands in a study area in east-central Arizona, U.S. High point density airborne lidar data, were randomly sampled to produce five lidar datasets with reduced densities ranging from 0.5 to 8 point(s)/m2, corresponding to the point density range of 3DEP to provide national lidar coverage over time. Lidar-derived aboveground biomass estimate errors showed an overall decreasing trend as lidar point density increased from 0.5 to 8 points/m2. Landsat 8-based aboveground biomass estimates produced errors larger than the lowest lidar point density of 0.5 point/m2, and therefore Landsat 8 observations alone were ineffective relative to airborne lidar for generating a Biomass ECV product, at least for the forest and woodland vegetation types of the Southwestern U.S. While a national Biomass ECV product with optimal accuracy could potentially be achieved with 3DEP data at 8 points/m2, our results indicate that even lower density lidar data could be sufficient to provide a national Biomass ECV product with accuracies significantly higher than that from Landsat observations alone.


Keywords


3DEP; Aboveground Biomass; Essential Climate Variable (ECV); Landsat; Lidar; Point Density; Quality Level

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