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Permanent URL to this publication: http://dx.doi.org/10.5167/uzh-8182

Morsdorf, F; Frey, O; Meier, E; Itten, K I; Allgöwer, B (2008). Assessment of the influence of flying altitude and scan angle on biophysical vegetation products derived from airborne laser scanning. International Journal of Remote Sensing, 29(5):1387-1406.

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Airborne Laser Scanning (ALS) has been established as a valuable tool for the estimation of biophysical vegetation properties such as tree height, crown width, fractional cover and leaf area index (LAI). It is expected that the conditions of data acquisition, such as viewing geometry and sensor configuration influence the value of these parameters. In order to gain knowledge about these different
conditions, we test for the sensitivity of vegetation products for viewing geometry, namely flying altitude and scanning (incidence) angle. Based on two methodologies for single tree extraction and derivation of fractional cover and LAI previously developed and published by our group, we evaluate how these variables change with either flying altitude or scanning angle. These are the two parameters which often need to be optimized towards the best compromise
between point density and area covered with a single flight line, in order to reduce acquisition costs. Our test-site in the Swiss National Park was sampled with two nominal flying altitudes, 500 and 900m above ground. Incidence angle and local incidence angle were computed based on the digital terrain model using a simple backward geocoding procedure. We divided the raw laser returns into several
different incident angle classes based on the flight path data; the TopoSys Falcon II system used in this study has a maximum scan angle of ¡7.15u. We compared the derived biophysical properties from each of these classes with field
measurements based on tachymeter measurements and hemispherical photographs, which were geolocated using differential GPS. It was found that with increasing flying height the well-known underestimation of tree height increases.
A similar behaviour can be observed for fractional cover; its respective values decrease with higher flying height. The minimum distance between first and last echo increases from 1.2 metres for 500m AGL to more than 3 metres for 900m AGL, which does alter return statistics. The behaviour for incidence angles is not so evident, probably due to the small scanning angle of the system used. fCover seems to be most affected by incidence angles, with significantly higher
differences for locations further away from nadir. As expected, incidence angle appears to be of higher importance for vegetation density parameters than local
incidence angle.


32 citations in Web of Science®
36 citations in Scopus®
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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:07 Faculty of Science > Institute of Geography
Dewey Decimal Classification:910 Geography & travel
Date:March 2008
Deposited On:21 Jan 2009 14:07
Last Modified:05 Apr 2016 12:42
Publisher:Taylor & Francis
Publisher DOI:10.1080/01431160701736349
Related URLs:http://www.tandf.co.uk/journals/titles/01431161.asp

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