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An intensity, image-based method to estimate gap fraction, canopy openness and effective leaf area index from phase-shift terrestrial laser scanning

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Abstract
Accurate in situ estimates of leaf area index (LAI) are essential for a wide range of ecological studies and applications. Due to the destructiveness and impracticality of direct measurements, indirect optical methods have mostly been used in the field to derive estimates of LAI from gap fraction measurements. Terrestrial laser scanning (TLS) is strongly supporting use of this active technology, which possesses several advantages compared to passive sensors. However, edge effects and partial beam interceptions are significantly challenges for the accurate retrieval of gap fraction from 3D point cloud data available from TLS, particularly in phase-shift instruments, which in turns require point cloud filtering to correct erroneous point measurements. As the limitations above influences the point cloud, we proposed a new method which is based only on the laser return intensity (LRI) information derived from raw TLS data, which are used to generate 2D intensity images. The intensity image contains all the unfiltered LRI information captured by TLS, which is used to separate gap from non-gap pixels, using a procedure comparable to the standard image analysis processing of digital hemispherical images. This allows a theoretically consistent comparison between active and passive optical measurements of gap fraction across all the zenith angle range. The method was tested in real and simulated forests. Gap fraction, canopy openness and effective leaf area index derived from real and simulated intensity TLS images were compared with those obtained using digital hemispherical photography (DHP). Results indicated that the intensity, image-based method outperformed DHP, as the higher pixel resolution of the intensity images and the larger distance covered by TLS allowed detection of many small canopy elements, particularly at higher zenith angles (longer optical distance), which are not detected in DHP. The main findings support the reliability of the intensity, image-based method to standardize protocols for TLS phase-shift scan data processing and use of the produced canopy estimates as a benchmark for passive optical measurements.
Keywords
cavelab, Terrestrial lidar, LAI, Hemispherical photography, Return intensity, librat, EFFECTIVE PLANT, FOREST, LIDAR, PHOTOGRAPHY, VARIABILITY, SIMULATION, COVER, TREES, WOOD

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MLA
Grotti, Mirko, et al. “An Intensity, Image-Based Method to Estimate Gap Fraction, Canopy Openness and Effective Leaf Area Index from Phase-Shift Terrestrial Laser Scanning.” AGRICULTURAL AND FOREST METEOROLOGY, vol. 280, 2020, doi:10.1016/j.agrformet.2019.107766.
APA
Grotti, M., Calders, K., Origo, N., Puletti, N., Alivernini, A., Ferrara, C., & Chianucci, F. (2020). An intensity, image-based method to estimate gap fraction, canopy openness and effective leaf area index from phase-shift terrestrial laser scanning. AGRICULTURAL AND FOREST METEOROLOGY, 280. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.agrformet.2019.107766
Chicago author-date
Grotti, Mirko, Kim Calders, Niall Origo, Nicola Puletti, Alessandro Alivernini, Carlotta Ferrara, and Francesco Chianucci. 2020. “An Intensity, Image-Based Method to Estimate Gap Fraction, Canopy Openness and Effective Leaf Area Index from Phase-Shift Terrestrial Laser Scanning.” AGRICULTURAL AND FOREST METEOROLOGY 280. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.agrformet.2019.107766.
Chicago author-date (all authors)
Grotti, Mirko, Kim Calders, Niall Origo, Nicola Puletti, Alessandro Alivernini, Carlotta Ferrara, and Francesco Chianucci. 2020. “An Intensity, Image-Based Method to Estimate Gap Fraction, Canopy Openness and Effective Leaf Area Index from Phase-Shift Terrestrial Laser Scanning.” AGRICULTURAL AND FOREST METEOROLOGY 280. doi:10.1016/j.agrformet.2019.107766.
Vancouver
1.
Grotti M, Calders K, Origo N, Puletti N, Alivernini A, Ferrara C, et al. An intensity, image-based method to estimate gap fraction, canopy openness and effective leaf area index from phase-shift terrestrial laser scanning. AGRICULTURAL AND FOREST METEOROLOGY. 2020;280.
IEEE
[1]
M. Grotti et al., “An intensity, image-based method to estimate gap fraction, canopy openness and effective leaf area index from phase-shift terrestrial laser scanning,” AGRICULTURAL AND FOREST METEOROLOGY, vol. 280, 2020.
@article{8630218,
  abstract     = {Accurate in situ estimates of leaf area index (LAI) are essential for a wide range of ecological studies and applications. Due to the destructiveness and impracticality of direct measurements, indirect optical methods have mostly been used in the field to derive estimates of LAI from gap fraction measurements. Terrestrial laser scanning (TLS) is strongly supporting use of this active technology, which possesses several advantages compared to passive sensors. However, edge effects and partial beam interceptions are significantly challenges for the accurate retrieval of gap fraction from 3D point cloud data available from TLS, particularly in phase-shift instruments, which in turns require point cloud filtering to correct erroneous point measurements.

As the limitations above influences the point cloud, we proposed a new method which is based only on the laser return intensity (LRI) information derived from raw TLS data, which are used to generate 2D intensity images. The intensity image contains all the unfiltered LRI information captured by TLS, which is used to separate gap from non-gap pixels, using a procedure comparable to the standard image analysis processing of digital hemispherical images. This allows a theoretically consistent comparison between active and passive optical measurements of gap fraction across all the zenith angle range.

The method was tested in real and simulated forests. Gap fraction, canopy openness and effective leaf area index derived from real and simulated intensity TLS images were compared with those obtained using digital hemispherical photography (DHP). Results indicated that the intensity, image-based method outperformed DHP, as the higher pixel resolution of the intensity images and the larger distance covered by TLS allowed detection of many small canopy elements, particularly at higher zenith angles (longer optical distance), which are not detected in DHP. The main findings support the reliability of the intensity, image-based method to standardize protocols for TLS phase-shift scan data processing and use of the produced canopy estimates as a benchmark for passive optical measurements.},
  articleno    = {107766},
  author       = {Grotti, Mirko and Calders, Kim and Origo, Niall and Puletti, Nicola and Alivernini, Alessandro and Ferrara, Carlotta and Chianucci, Francesco},
  issn         = {0168-1923},
  journal      = {AGRICULTURAL AND FOREST METEOROLOGY},
  keywords     = {cavelab,Terrestrial lidar,LAI,Hemispherical photography,Return intensity,librat,EFFECTIVE PLANT,FOREST,LIDAR,PHOTOGRAPHY,VARIABILITY,SIMULATION,COVER,TREES,WOOD},
  language     = {eng},
  pages        = {11},
  title        = {An intensity, image-based method to estimate gap fraction, canopy openness and effective leaf area index from phase-shift terrestrial laser scanning},
  url          = {http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.agrformet.2019.107766},
  volume       = {280},
  year         = {2020},
}

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