Validation of Canopy Height Profile methodology for small-footprint full-waveform airborne LiDAR data in a discontinuous canopy environment

Karolina Fieber, Ian Davenport, Mihai Tanase, James Ferryman, Robert James Gurney, Victor M Becerra, Jeffrey Walker, Jorg Michael Hacker

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

37 Citations (Scopus)


A Canopy Height Profile (CHP) procedure presented in Harding et al. (2001) for large footprint LiDAR data was tested in a closed canopy environment as a way of extracting vertical foliage profiles from LiDAR raw-waveform. In this study, an adaptation of this method to small-footprint data has been shown, tested and validated in an Australian sparse canopy forest at plot- and site-level. Further, the methodology itself has been enhanced by implementing a dataset-adjusted reflectance ratio calculation according to Armston et al. (2013) in the processing chain, and tested against a fixed ratio of 0.5 estimated for the laser wavelength of 1550 nm. As a by-product of the methodology, effective leaf area index (LAIe) estimates were derived and compared to hemispherical photography values. To assess the influence of LiDAR aggregation area size on the estimates in a sparse canopy environment, LiDAR CHPs and LAIes were generated by aggregating waveforms to plot- and site-level footprints (plot/site-aggregated) as well as in 5m grids (grid-processed). LiDAR profiles were then compared to field biomass profiles generated based on field tree measurements. The correlation between field and LiDAR profiles was very high, with a mean R2 of 0.75 at plot-level and 0.86 at site-level for 55 plots and the corresponding 11 sites. Gridding had almost no impact on the correlation between LiDAR and field profiles (only marginally improvement), nor did the dataset-adjusted reflectance ratio. However, gridding and the dataset-adjusted reflectance ratio were found to improve the correlation between raw-waveform LiDAR and hemispherical photography LAIe estimates, yielding the highest correlations of 0.61 at plot-level and of 0.83 at site-level. This proved the validity of the approach and superiority of dataset-adjusted reflectance ratio of Armston et al. (2013) over a fixed ratio of 0.5 for LAIe estimation, as well as showed the adequacy of small-footprint LiDAR data for LAIe estimation in discontinuous canopy forests.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)144 - 157
Number of pages14
JournalISPRS Journal of Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2015

Cite this