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Title: Biophysical parameter retrieval from satellite laser altimetry
Author: Rosette, Jacqueline
Awarding Body: Swansea University
Current Institution: Swansea University
Date of Award: 2009
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Quantifying and monitoring vegetation distribution and change are fundamental to carbon accounting and requirements of national forest inventories. This research explores the potential of the Geoscience Laser Altimeter System (GLAS), launched in 2003 by NASA as the first global Earth surface satellite LiDAR mission. The project study site is the Forest of Dean, Gloucestershire, UK, a highly mixed, temperate forest with varied topography. Methods are developed to distinguish the regions within waveforms returned from vegetation and ground. When compared with field measurements, estimation of canopy height gives a correlation of R2=0.92; RMSE=2.81m. Waveform indices are determined and evaluated with respect to their potential to estimate biophysical parameters. Heights of cumulative energy percentiles within the waveform prove to be significant estimators. When compared to calculations from independent yield models, results show correlations with stand- level top height (R2=0.76; RMSE 3.9m) and stemwood volume (mixed composition stands dominated by broadleaves: R2=0.47, RMSE=75.6m3/ha; conifers: R2=0.66, RMSE=82.5m3/ha). Uncertainty analysis is undertaken of both waveform and yield model estimates. Canopy cover is estimated for the area beneath GLAS waveforms, corrected for differences in reflectance for ground and canopy surfaces. These are assessed against airborne LiDAR estimates, validated using hemispherical photography. The method produces results with R2=0.63; RMSE=11% for stands with greatest coverage by broadleaves and R2=0.41; RMSE 16% for conifer-dominated stands. Small footprint airborne LiDAR (AL) is widely accepted to offer valuable data regarding forest parameters. An evaluation of AL and GLAS results demonstrate that the broad GLAS footprint dimensions allow similar estimation of stand-level parameters (e.g. AL/yield model Top Height: R2=0.73, RMSE=4.5m). Direct comparison of GLAS with AL shows ground surface identification with mean difference of 0.32m and that elevation profiles correspond well (98th percentiles R2=0.76, RMSE=3.4m). Finally, prospects for use of LiDAR in carbon accounting, assimilation within models and for forestry applications are discussed.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available