SilviLaser 2008: Keynote speakers and presentations

Professor Ralph Dubayah

"The Use of Large Footprint Waveform LiDAR for Landscape Characterization: Past Experience and Future Prospects"

"The exploding use of small-footprint LiDAR over the last 10 years has to some degree obscured the development and application of large footprint waveform recording LiDAR. Such systems have included the airborne Laser Vegetation Imaging Sensor (LVIS) of NASA, the developed but unlaunched Vegetation Canopy Lidar (VCL) space mission, as well as the currently orbiting ICESAT satellite. A new space mission, the DESDynI (Deformation, Ecosystems, and Dynamics of ICE) mission, is currently under development by NASA as well which will provide global observations of land surface vertical structure using radar/LiDAR fusion.  There is thus considerable interest in understanding both the potential and limits of large footprint waveform LiDAR for large area assessments.

In this talk I present our experience using waveform LiDAR for a variety of environmental and forest-related applications. I begin by providing a brief overview of waveform LiDAR and show its equivalance to small-footprint discrete return systems.

I next present a series of examples using the LVIS system for a variety of environmental applications. These include estimation of tropical forest biomass, carbon flux and dynamics, habitat mapping for endangered species (the ivory-billed woodpecker and California spotted owl), and derivation and mapping of forest fire fuel structure for montane coniferous forests. In addition, I outline our efforts to marry an ecosystem model with lidar-derived forest structure for improved carbon stocks and flux estimation.

I then explore the use of space-based waveform observations from the ICESAT satellite.

Lastly, I provide a preview of the next generation space-based lidar systems, including the planned DESDynI mission, which hopes to provide spatially continuous estimates of forest structure for the Earth."

The Use of Large Footprint Waveform LiDAR for Landscape Characterization: Past Experience and Future Prospects (PDF-35K)

About Professor Ralph Dubayah

He is Professor in the Geography Department at the University of Maryland College Park, and a Fellow at the University of Maryland Institute for Advanced Computer Studies.

His research interests include the estimation of Tropical Forest aboveground biomass using large-footprint Lidar, and improving model carbon projections of the land surface using Lidar remote sensing. He was principal investigator for the Vegetation Canopy Lidar (VCL) Mission.

Prof. Ralph Dubayah
1149 Lefrak Hall
University of Maryland
College Park
MD 20737

Professor Richard Lucas

"Advances in Forest Characterisation, Mapping and Monitoring through Integration of LiDAR and other Remote Sensing Datasets"

The diversity of scales and modes at which ground, airborne and spaceborne LiDAR operate has increased opportunities for quantitatively assessing forest structure, biomass and species composition and obtaining more general information on their extent, condition, growth stage, dynamics and ecological/commercial value.  However, the level of information extracted can be increased by integrating data from other sensor types, including hyperspectral and radar.

Using examples from a range of forest biomes, this keynote presentation will provide an overview of how LiDAR, either singularly or in combination with other data, has enhanced our knowledge and understanding of forest state and dynamics and response to change, whether natural or anthropogenic.

Application examples relating to biodiversity assessment, radar simulation modelling and carbon assessment at scales ranging from individual trees to entire landscapes will be presented.

The future role and potential of LiDAR and related technologies for forest assessment will be outlined.

Advances in forest characterisation, mapping and monitoring through integration of LiDAR and other remote sensing datasets (PDF-26K)

About Professor Richard Lucas

He is Reader in the Institute of Geography and Earth Sciences, at the University of Wales Aberystwyth.

His research interests include the integration of airborne and spaceborne LiDAR, SAR and hyper-spectral data for assessing the structure and biomass of tropical and subtropical forests and woodlands. Current research sites include Brazil and central and southern Queensland, Australia.

Dr Richard Lucas
Institute of Geography and Earth Sciences
Aberystwyth University
SY23 3DB

Dr Wesley Newton

"LiDAR and Wildlife-Habitat Applications"

Keynote speaker for the special session on ecological applications for forest habitat assessment (sponsored by the British Ecological Society).

Vegetative composition (e.g., conifer and deciduous trees) and structure (e.g., over- and under-story tree densities and heights) are among the most important factors affecting habitat selection by wildlife, particularly breeding birds in forest ecosystems.  Estimating the composition of vegetation can be done using high resolution digital imagery for each mapping unit (e.g., forest stands) across the entire landscape.  However, current imaging systems do not provide a mechanism for estimating vegetation structure for each mapping unit.  Such information has to be collected by intensive and extensive ground surveys, which are impractical for large landscapes, especially where a complete census is required.  Therefore, the challenge is to estimate vegetation structure in a spatially explicit manner at every mapping unit across the entire landscape that can then be used to assess and predict habitat for wildlife.

LiDAR offers an opportunity to capture and model vegetation structure across entire landscapes.  These estimated structural metrics, which are typically the same metrics of interest to foresters, can then be used as explanatory variables in various empirical models for predicting wildlife species occurrences, or other demographic metrics (e.g., densities, nest survival).

Here we describe the utility of LiDAR, combined with imagery, in predicting wildlife demographics and discuss many applications, not in only forest ecosystems but also in riparian, shrubland, and urban (i.e., urban forestry) ecosystems.

LiDAR and Wildlife-Habitat Applications (PDF-33K)

About Dr Wesley Newton

He is the Supervisory Statistician in the USGS Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center. His current projects include developing bird species-habitat models using LiDAR data in northern forests and developing management optimization algorithms. He organised a very successful session on ‘LiDAR Applications for Wildlifers’ at the 13th US Wildlife Society Annual Conference in 2006.

Dr Wesley Newton
USGS Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center
8711 37th Street Southeast
North Dakota, 58401