Estimation of Tree Height by Combining Low Density Airborne LiDAR Data and Images Using the 3D Tree Model: A Case Study in a Subtropical Forest in China
In general, low density airborne LiDAR (Light Detection and Ranging) data are typically used to obtain the average height of forest trees. If the data could be used to obtain the tree height at the single tree level, it would greatly extend the usage of the data. Since the tree top position is often missed by the low density LiDAR pulse point, the estimated forest tree height at the single tree level is generally lower than the actual tree height when low density LiDAR data are used for the
... mation. To resolve this problem, in this paper, a modified approach based on three-dimensional (3D) parameter tree model was adopted to reconstruct the tree height at the single tree level by combining the characteristics of high resolution remote sensing images and low density airborne LiDAR data. The approach was applied to two coniferous forest plots in the subtropical forest region, Fujian Province, China. The following conclusions were reached after analyzing the results: The marker-controlled watershed segmentation method is able to effectively extract the crown profile from sub meter-level resolution images without the aid of the height information of LiDAR data. The adaptive local maximum method satisfies the need for detecting the vertex of a single tree crown. The improved following-valley approach is available for estimating the tree crown diameter. The 3D parameter tree model, which can take advantage of low-density airborne LiDAR data and high resolution images, is feasible for improving the estimation accuracy of the tree height. Compared to the tree height results from only using the low density LiDAR data, this approach can achieve higher estimation accuracy. The accuracy of the tree height estimation at the single tree level for two test areas was more than 80%, and the average estimation error of the tree height was 0.7 m. The modified approach based on the three-dimensional parameter tree model can effectively increase the estimation accuracy of individual tree height by combining the characteristics of high resolution remote sensing images and low density airborne LiDAR data.