Estimation of Canopy Height Using an Airborne Ku-Band Frequency-Modulated Continuous Waveform Profiling Radar

Hui Zhou, Yuwei Chen* (Corresponding Author), Juha Hyyppa, Ziyi Feng, Fashuai Li, Teemu Hakala, Xinmin Xu, Xiaolei Zhu

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


An airborne Ku-band frequency-modulated continuous waveform (FMCW) profiling radar terms as Tomoradar provides a distance-resolved measure of microwave radiation backscattered from the canopy surface and the underlying ground. The Tomoradar waveform data are acquired in the southern Boreal Forest Zone with Scots pine, Norway spruce, and birch as major species in Finland. A weighted filtering algorithm based on statistical properties of noise is designed to process the original waveform. In addition, another algorithm of estimating canopy height for the processed waveform is developed by extracting the canopy top and ground position. A higher-precision reference data from a Velodyne VLP-16 laser scanner and a digital terrain model are introduced to validate the accuracy of extracted canopy height. According to the processed results from 127 765 copolarization measurements in 32 stripes of Tomoradar field test, the mean error of canopy height varies from-0.04 to 1.53 m, and the root-mean-square error approximates 1 m. Moreover, the estimated canopy heights highly correlate with the reference data in view of that the correlation coefficients maintain from 0.86 to 0.99 with an average value of 0.96. All these results demonstrate that Tomoradar presents an important approach in estimating the canopy height with several meters footprint and is feasible of being a validation instrument for satellite LiDAR with large footprint in the forest inventory.

Original languageEnglish
Article number8462728
Pages (from-to)3590-3597
Number of pages8
JournalIEEE Journal of selected topics in applied earth observations and remote sensing
Issue number10
Early online date12 Sep 2018
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2018


  • Canopy height
  • Ku band profile radar
  • waveform
  • weighted filtering


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