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Open AccessArticle

Characterizing a New England Saltmarsh with NASA G-LiHT Airborne Lidar

Universities Space Research Association, Columbia, MD 21046, USA
Earth Sciences, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, MD 20771, USA
School for the Environment, University of Massachusetts Boston, Boston, MA 02125, USA
Department of Marine and Environmental Sciences, Northeastern University, Boston, MA 02115, USA
Woods Hole Research Center, Falmouth, MA 02540, USA
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Remote Sens. 2019, 11(5), 509;
Received: 1 February 2019 / Revised: 25 February 2019 / Accepted: 28 February 2019 / Published: 2 March 2019
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Satellite-Based Wetland Observation)
PDF [11207 KB, uploaded 2 March 2019]


Airborne lidar can observe saltmarshes on a regional scale, targeting phenological and tidal states to provide the information to more effectively utilize frequent multispectral satellite observations to monitor change. Airborne lidar observations from NASA Goddard Lidar Hyperspectral and Thermal (G-LiHT) of a well-studied region of saltmarsh (Plum Island, Massachusetts, United States) were acquired in multiple years (2014, 2015 and 2016). These airborne lidar data provide characterizations of important saltmarsh components, as well as specifications for effective surveys. The invasive Phragmites australis was observed to increase in extent from 8374 m2 in 2014, to 8882 m2 in 2015 (+6.1%), and again to 13,819 m2 in 2016 (+55.6%). Validation with terrestrial lidar supported this increase, but suggested the total extent was still underestimated. Estimates of Spartina alterniflora extent from airborne lidar were within 7% of those from terrestrial lidar, but overestimation of height of Spartina alterniflora was found to occur at the edges of creeks (+83.9%). Capturing algae was found to require observations within ±15° of nadir, and capturing creek structure required observations within ±10° of nadir. In addition, 90.33% of creeks and ditches were successfully captured in the airborne lidar data (8206.3 m out of 9084.3 m found in aerial imagery). View Full-Text
Keywords: lidar; saltmarsh; classification; modelling lidar; saltmarsh; classification; modelling

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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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Paynter, I.; Schaaf, C.; Bowen, J.L.; Deegan, L.; Peri, F.; Cook, B. Characterizing a New England Saltmarsh with NASA G-LiHT Airborne Lidar. Remote Sens. 2019, 11, 509.

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