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Remote Sens. 2016, 8(5), 401; doi:10.3390/rs8050401

Estimating Tree Frontal Area in Urban Areas Using Terrestrial LiDAR Data

1
Center for Urban and Environmental Change, Indiana State University, Terre Haute, IN 47809, USA
2
Department of Earth and Environmental Systems, Indiana State University, Terre Haute, IN 47809, USA
3
Department of Mathematics and Computer Science, Indiana State University, Terre Haute, IN 47809, USA
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editors: Yuhong He, Nicolas Baghdadi and Prasad S. Thenkabail
Received: 9 March 2016 / Revised: 16 April 2016 / Accepted: 4 May 2016 / Published: 11 May 2016
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Abstract

Surface roughness parameters, such as roughness length and displacement height, impact the estimation of surface moisture, and the frontal areas of buildings and trees are two components that contribute to surface roughness in urban areas. Research on tree frontal area has not been conducted in urban areas before, and we hope to fill that gap in the literature with this study by using Terrestrial Light Detection and Ranging (LiDAR) data to estimate tree frontal areas in Warren Township, Indianapolis, IN, USA. We first estimated the frontal areas of individual trees based on their morphology, then calibrated a regression model to estimate the tree frontal area in 30 m pixels using parameters derived from LiDAR data and tree inventory data. The parameters included tree crown base area, height, width, conditions, defects, maintenances, genera, and land use. The validation shows that R2 yielded values ranging from 0.84 to 0.88, and RMSEs varied with tree category. The tree categories were identified based on the height and broadness of the canopy, which indicated the degree of resistance to air flow. This type of model can be used to empirically determine local roughness values at the tree-level for any city with a complete tree inventory. With the strong correlation between trees’ frontal area and crown base area, this model may also be used to determine local roughness value at 30 m resolution with NLCD (National Land Cover Database) tree canopy cover data as a component. A proper tree categorization according to the vertical air resistance, e.g., height and canopy density, was effective to reduce the RMSE in tree frontal area estimation. Geometric parameters, such as height, crown base height, and crown base area extracted from Airborne LiDAR, which demand less storage and computation capacity, may also be sufficient for tree frontal area estimation in the areas where Terrestrial LiDAR is not available. View Full-Text
Keywords: Terrestrial LiDAR; tree frontal area; surface roughness; tree characteristics; urban areas Terrestrial LiDAR; tree frontal area; surface roughness; tree characteristics; urban areas
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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. (CC BY 4.0).

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MDPI and ACS Style

Jiang, Y.; Weng, Q.; Speer, J.H.; Baker, S. Estimating Tree Frontal Area in Urban Areas Using Terrestrial LiDAR Data. Remote Sens. 2016, 8, 401.

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