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Remote Sens. 2011, 3(3), 503-523; doi:10.3390/rs3030503

Roughness Mapping on Various Vertical Scales Based on Full-Waveform Airborne Laser Scanning Data

1,* , 2
1 Institute of Photogrammetry & Remote Sensing, Vienna University of Technology, Gußhausstraße 27-29, A-1040 Vienna, Austria 2 AIT Austrian Institute of Technology GmbH, Donau-City-Str. 1, A-1220 Vienna, Austria 3 Department of Geography, University of Heidelberg, Berliner Str. 48, D-69120 Heidelberg, Germany
* Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 7 January 2011 / Revised: 28 February 2011 / Accepted: 1 March 2011 / Published: 4 March 2011
(This article belongs to the Special Issue 100 Years ISPRS - Advancing Remote Sensing Science)
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Roughness is an important input parameter for modeling of natural hazards such as floods, rock falls and avalanches, where it is basically assumed that flow velocities decrease with increasing roughness. Seeing roughness as a multi-scale level concept (i.e., ranging from fine-scale soil characteristics to description of understory and lower tree layer) various roughness raster products were derived from the original full-waveform airborne laser scanning (FWF-ALS) point cloud using two different types of roughness parameters, the surface roughness (SR) and the terrain roughness (TR). For the calculation of the SR, ALS terrain points within a defined height range to the terrain surface are considered. For the parameterization of the SR, two approaches are investigated. In the first approach, a geometric description by calculating the standard deviation of plane fitting residuals of terrain points is used. In the second one, the potential of the derived echo widths are analyzed for the parameterization of SR. The echo width is an indicator for roughness and the slope of the target. To achieve a comparable spatial resolution of both SR layers, the calculation of the standard deviation of detrended terrain points requires a higher terrain point density than the SR parameterization using the echo widths. The TR describes objects (i.e., point clusters) close but explicitly above the terrain surface, with 20 cm defined as threshold height value for delineation of the surface layer (i.e., forest floor layer). Two different empirically defined vegetation layers below the canopy layer were analyzed (TR I: 0.2 m to 1.0 m; TR II: 0.2 m to 3.0 m). A 1 m output grid cell size was chosen for all roughness parameters in order to provide consistency for further integration of high-resolution optical imagery. The derived roughness parameters were then jointly classified, together with a normalized Digital Surface Model (nDSM) showing the height of objects (i.e., trees) above ground. The presented approach enables the classification of forested areas in patches of different vegetation structure (e.g., varying soil roughness, understory, density of natural cover). For validation purposes in situ reference data were collected and cross-checked with the classification results, positively confirming the general feasibility of the proposed vertical concept of integrated roughness mapping on various vertical levels. Results can provide valuable input for forest mapping and monitoring, in particular with regard to natural hazard modeling.
Keywords: three-dimensional; LiDAR; surface; retrieval; geomorphology; roughness; forest; vertical vegetation structure; classification three-dimensional; LiDAR; surface; retrieval; geomorphology; roughness; forest; vertical vegetation structure; classification
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY) which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

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Hollaus, M.; Aubrecht, C.; Höfle, B.; Steinnocher, K.; Wagner, W. Roughness Mapping on Various Vertical Scales Based on Full-Waveform Airborne Laser Scanning Data. Remote Sens. 2011, 3, 503-523.

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