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)


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.


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

Full Text: PDF


  • There are currently no refbacks.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.

*2016 Journal Impact Factor was established by dividing the number of articles published in 2014 and 2015 with the number of times they are cited in 2016 based on Google Scholar, Google Search and the Microsoft Academic Search. If ‘A’ is the total number of articles published in 2014 and 2015, and ‘B’ is the number of times these articles were cited in indexed publications during 2016 then, journal impact factor = A/B. To know More: (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Impact_factor)