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Remote Sens. 2014, 6(3), 1954-1972; doi:10.3390/rs6031954
Article

Classification of Plot-Level Fire-Caused Tree Mortality in a Redwood Forest Using Digital Orthophotography and LiDAR

1
, 2,* , 3
 and 4
Received: 31 December 2013; in revised form: 30 January 2014 / Accepted: 24 February 2014 / Published: 4 March 2014
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Quantifying the Environmental Impact of Forest Fires)
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Abstract: Aerial and satellite imagery are widely used to assess the severity and impact of wildfires. Light detection and ranging (LiDAR) is a newer remote sensing technology that has demonstrated utility in measuring vegetation structure. Combined use of imagery and LiDAR may improve the assessment of wildfire impacts compared to imagery alone. Estimation of tree mortality at the plot scale could serve for more rapid, broad-scale, and lower cost post-fire assessments than feasible through field assessment. We assessed the accuracy of classifying color-infrared imagery in combination with post-fire LiDAR, and with differenced (pre- and post-fire) LiDAR, in estimating plot percent mortality in a second-growth coast redwood forest near Santa Cruz, CA. Percent mortality of trees greater than 25.4 cm DBH in 47 permanent 0.08 ha plots was categorized as low (<25%), moderate (25%–50%), or high (>50%). The model using Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI) from National Agricultural Imagery Program (NAIP) was 74% accurate; the model using NDVI and post-fire LiDAR was 85% accurate, while the model using NDVI and differenced LiDAR was 83% accurate. The addition of post-fire LiDAR data provided a modest increase in accuracy compared to imagery alone, which may not justify the substantial cost of data acquisition. The method demonstrated could be applied to rapidly estimate tree mortality resulting from wildfires at fine to moderate scale.
Keywords: LiDAR; forestry; wildfire; remote sensing; normalized difference vegetation index; coast redwood LiDAR; forestry; wildfire; remote sensing; normalized difference vegetation index; coast redwood
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

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MDPI and ACS Style

Bishop, B.D.; Dietterick, B.C.; White, R.A.; Mastin, T.B. Classification of Plot-Level Fire-Caused Tree Mortality in a Redwood Forest Using Digital Orthophotography and LiDAR. Remote Sens. 2014, 6, 1954-1972.

AMA Style

Bishop BD, Dietterick BC, White RA, Mastin TB. Classification of Plot-Level Fire-Caused Tree Mortality in a Redwood Forest Using Digital Orthophotography and LiDAR. Remote Sensing. 2014; 6(3):1954-1972.

Chicago/Turabian Style

Bishop, Brian D.; Dietterick, Brian C.; White, Russell A.; Mastin, Tom B. 2014. "Classification of Plot-Level Fire-Caused Tree Mortality in a Redwood Forest Using Digital Orthophotography and LiDAR." Remote Sens. 6, no. 3: 1954-1972.


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