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Remote Sens. 2016, 8(7), 582; doi:10.3390/rs8070582

Extracting Canopy Surface Texture from Airborne Laser Scanning Data for the Supervised and Unsupervised Prediction of Area-Based Forest Characteristics

1
Department of Forest Sciences, University of Helsinki, P.O. Box 27, FI-00014 Helsinki, Finland
2
School of Forest Sciences, University of Eastern Finland, P.O. Box 111, FI-80101 Joensuu, Finland
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editors: Jie Shan, Juha Hyyppä, Nicolas Baghdadi and Prasad S. Thenkabail
Received: 31 May 2016 / Revised: 1 July 2016 / Accepted: 5 July 2016 / Published: 9 July 2016
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Airborne Laser Scanning)
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Abstract

Area-based analyses of airborne laser scanning (ALS) data are an established approach to obtain wall-to-wall predictions of forest characteristics for vast areas. The analyses of sparse data in particular are based on the height value distributions, which do not produce optimal information on the horizontal forest structure. We evaluated the complementary potential of features quantifying the textural variation of ALS-based canopy height models (CHMs) for both supervised (linear regression) and unsupervised (k-Means clustering) analyses. Based on a comprehensive literature review, we identified a total of four texture analysis methods that produced rotation-invariant features of different order and scale. The CHMs and the textural features were derived from practical sparse-density, leaf-off ALS data originally acquired for ground elevation modeling. The features were extracted from a circular window of 254 m2 and related with boreal forest characteristics observed from altogether 155 field sample plots. Features based on gray-level histograms, distribution of forest patches, and gray-level co-occurrence matrices were related with plot volume, basal area, and mean diameter with coefficients of determination (R2) of up to 0.63–0.70, whereas features that measured the uniformity of local binary patterns of the CHMs performed poorer. Overall, the textural features compared favorably with benchmark features based on the point data, indicating that the textural features contain additional information useful for the prediction of forest characteristics. Due to the developed processing routines for raster data, the CHM features may potentially be extracted with a lower computational burden, which promotes their use for applications such as pre-stratification or guiding the field plot sampling based solely on ALS data. View Full-Text
Keywords: forest inventory; Light Detection And Ranging (LiDAR); surface modeling; Inverse Distance Weighting (IDW) interpolation; image texture anisotropy forest inventory; Light Detection And Ranging (LiDAR); surface modeling; Inverse Distance Weighting (IDW) interpolation; image texture anisotropy
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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

Niemi, M.T.; Vauhkonen, J. Extracting Canopy Surface Texture from Airborne Laser Scanning Data for the Supervised and Unsupervised Prediction of Area-Based Forest Characteristics. Remote Sens. 2016, 8, 582.

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