Light detection and ranging (LiDAR) technology has been extensively used for estimating forest attributes. Although high-spatial-density LiDAR data can be used to accurately derive attributes at single tree level, low-density LiDAR data are usually acquired for reducing the cost. However, a low density strongly affects the estimation accuracy due to the underestimation of the tree top and the possible loss of crowns that are not hit by any LiDAR point. In this paper, we propose a 3-D model-based approach to the estimation of the tree top height based on the fusion between low-density LiDAR data and high-resolution optical images. In the proposed approach, the integration of the two remotely sensed data sources is first exploited to accurately detect and delineate the single tree crowns. Then, the LiDAR vertical measures are associated to those crowns hit by at least one LiDAR point and used together with the radius of the crown and the tree apex location derived from the optical image for reconstructing the tree top height by a properly defined parametric model. For the remaining crowns detected only in the optical image, we reconstruct the tree top height by proposing a k-nearest neighbor trees technique that estimates the height of the missed trees as the average of the k reconstructed height values of the trees having most similar crown properties. The proposed technique has been tested on a coniferous forest located in the Italian Alps. The experimental results confirmed the effectiveness of the proposed method.
|Number of pages||14|
|Journal||IEEE transactions on geoscience and remote sensing|
|Early online date||16 Jun 2014|
|Publication status||Published - Jan 2015|